Hoyer Doesn't Say Where Constitution Authorizes Obama Not to Enforce Immigration Law

By Ali Meyer | December 2, 2014 | 1:54 PM EST

House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) spoke at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's annual public policy conference on Sept. 30, 2014 in Washington, D.C. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) -- At a press briefing on Tuesday, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said that President Obama had "broad authority" to take unilateral action on immigration but failed to directly answer a question asking him where specifically the Constitution authorized President Obama to unilaterally decided not to enforce immigration laws.

CNSNews.com asked Hoyer: “The Constitution requires that the president ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed.’ Where specifically in the Constitution does it give the president the power not to enforce immigration laws against 5 million violators of that law?”

Hoyer did not point to any specific provision of the Constitution, but said that Obama had authority because "president have broad authority to deal with implementation" of immigration law.

Hoyer said: “Well, your question is: Do I think the president has the authority to do what he did, and the answer to that is, yes I do. I believe the legal precedents are pretty clear under President Bush and under President Reagan and President Clinton, both President Bush’s actions have been taken. Presidents have broad authority to deal with the implementation of the immigration statute and I think what the president has done falls within his authority to do so, and I know there’s a hearing in the House today about that.”

“Congress has a responsibility to act,” Hoyer said. “When you have the speaker, former majority leader, the present majority leader, and almost everybody that I hear talking about it, saying that the system is broken, we have a responsibility to fix it.”

“And we have that opportunity,” said Hoyer. “So whether the president has--I believe he has the authority--but the Congress clearly has the authority to set the law. And if we pass the law, if we pass a law, that will be dispositive of the issue. The problem is we haven’t done that and the president has acted because he believes it’s in the best interest of the country to do so and to focus, which I think he’s absolutely right about, to focus resources on border security.”

“And when they talk about border security, the border is much, much more secure than it was 10 years ago by every calculation,” said Hoyer.  “And then also focus on getting those who’ve committed crimes in America out of this country, who are not authorized to be here, out of this country. That’s what he’s doing, I think he’s right.”

President Obama announced on November 20 an executive order that said, “if you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes--you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation.”

This policy reportedly will effect up to five million illegal aliens.

In July, Hoyer told CNSNews.com that Obama “can’t legalize” illegal aliens, but the president “can implement the laws as he believes they should be implemented.”

“What the president can in fact do, however, is implement the laws as he believes they should be implemented,” Hoyer said then. “And there have been a lot of scholars--and I’m not going to go through the quotes now--who have said the president clearly has broad authority to decide how he’s going to implement the law.”

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