Hoyer: Obama 'Can’t Legalize' Illegals--But He Can Decide How to 'Implement the Laws'

Brittany M. Hughes | July 29, 2014 | 4:35pm EDT
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Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD)

(CNSNews.com) -- House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said that President Obama “can’t legalize” the illegal aliens in the United States, but then added that the president “can implement the laws as he believes they should be implemented."

"Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution states that Congress has the power to make laws governing naturalization. Given this, does President Obama have the unilateral power to legalize illegal aliens?" CNSNews.com asked Hoyer.

“I don’t think he does,” Hoyer responded, “and I don’t think that’s what he’s going to do. You’re right. He can’t legalize them.”

“What the president can in fact do, however, is implement the laws as he believes they should be implemented,” Hoyer added. “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.”

“But that does not mean he can legalize people. He can’t make them citizens,” he maintained. “Not according to the law.”

Hoyer also said he’s “not going to speculate” on the possible outcome of President Obama's usurpation of congressional authority in his executive actions on immigration.

“I’m not, I’m not going to speculate on that,” he said. "The president is discussing [this] with his lawyers, and he’s made it very clear he wants to do that, which is in his authority. But he’s also made it very clear he wants to take such action as is appropriate legally, that is consistent with his responsibilities, in light of a refusal of the Congress to even consider fixing a broken system either through their [Republican] bills, or with our bills, or with Senate-passed bills. The continual refusal to act has put the president in this position,” Hoyer added.

The U.S. Constitution states in Article I, Section 8, Clause 4 that “Congress shall have the power…To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.” This power is not granted to the president, meaning Obama could not legally grant citizenship to illegal aliens apart from Congress via executive action.

With Congress expected to adjourn at the end of this week for a month-long hiatus without passing a bill addressing comprehensive immigration reform, President Obama has promised to take executive action by the end of the summer to “fix as much of our immigration system as [he] can, without Congress.”

According to press reports, this could include granting thousands of work permits to illegal aliens, with some Democrats calling for the president to use his executive power to also defer deportations.

Obama’s pledge comes after more than 202,000 illegal aliens, mostly from Central America, have been apprehended at the southwest U.S. border since October, including more than 57,000 unaccompanied children.

Illegal alien children asleep in Brownsville, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Republican leaders in Congress point to executive orders issued by President Obama such as the DREAM Act and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals as incentives that opened the floodgates for thousands of illegal aliens and their children to pour across the border in hopes of being able to stay in the United States.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said during a press conference Tuesday that he expects to move a border security bill this week, which includes $659 million in funds to increase security and stem the tide of illegal alien crossings. The funds are expected to last until the end of the current fiscal year on Sept. 30.

President Obama has asked for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to address the border crisis, which includes about $433 million for Customs and Border Protection.
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