Mikulski: Let the Courts Decide If Obama Has Authority to Grant SSNs to Illegals

By Brittany M. Hughes | February 26, 2015 | 11:22 AM EST

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) told CNSNews.com Tuesday she will let the courts decide whether President Barack Obama has the authority to unilaterally grant Social Security numbers to illegal aliens.

CNSNews.com asked Mikulski on Capitol Hill Tuesday: “A federal court recently stated that prosecutorial discretion does not include giving Social Security Numbers to illegal aliens. Do you believe that President Obama has the power legally to unilaterally grant these numbers to illegal aliens?”

“Right now, because of the Texas court decision, those questions are going to go through the courts. And actually I’ll look forward to hearing the court and the judicial branch’s insight and recommendations on this,” Mikulski responded.

CNSNews.com followed up with Mikulski: “And until then, do you personally believe he has the power to do this under the law?”

“It’s not what I personally believe. It’s what the law states and the Constitution allows. So I look forward to the legal process going forward,” Mikulski responded.

Although she would not comment on the legality of Obama’s immigration program, Mikulski has been an adamant opponent of Republican efforts to block funding for them.

She repeatedly has urged Congress to pass a “clean bill” funding the Department of Homeland Security -- one that does not include riders blocking funding for the president unilateral changes to immigration law.

Granting work authorization and Social Security numbers to illegal aliens is the centerpiece of Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents Program (DAPA), which would defer deportation for as many as five million illegal aliens while simultaneously granting them the right to work.

Obama's executive action also expands the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA), which grants temporary amnesty to illegal aliens who were brought to the United States as children.

In response to a lawsuit filed by 26 states, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, Texas, recently issued a preliminary injunction, temporarily blocking the administration from going ahead with the work permits.

In his opinion, Hanen stated that while executive branch has broad prosecutorial discretion, and may legally choose to not enforce the deportation of illegal aliens, it does not have the legal authority to grant Social Security Numbers and other benefits currently denied by law to illegal aliens.

“Instead of merely refusing to enforce the [Immigration and Nationality Act]’s removal laws against an individual, the [Department of Homeland Security] enacted a wide-reaching program that awards legal presence to individuals Congress has deemed deportable or removable, as well as the ability to obtain Social Security Numbers, work authorization permits and the ability to travel,” Hanen explained.

“Absent DAPA, these individuals would not receive these benefits. DHS has not instructed its officer to merely refrain from arresting, ordering the removal of, or prosecuting unlawfully-present aliens. Indeed, by the very terms of DAPA, that is what DHS has been doing for these recipients for the last five years,” he added.

“Exercising prosecutorial discretion and/or refusing to enforce a statute does not also entail bestowing benefits. Non-enforcement is just that—not enforcing the law,” the judge said. “Non-enforcement does not entail refusing to remove these individuals as required by law and then provide three years of immunity from that law, legal presence status, plus any benefits that may accompany legal presence under current regulations."

The Obama administration is now seeking to overturn that injunction.

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