(CNSNews.com) – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said at a hearing Tuesday that President Obama’s executive action to protect millions of illegal aliens from deportation is driving the U.S. toward a “constitutional crisis.”
“By acting lawlessly and assuming legislative power, the Obama administration is driving full speed ahead to a constitutional crisis, tilting the scales of our three-branch government in his favor and threatening to unravel our system of checks and balances, ” Goodlatte said in his opening remarks.
Obama issued an executive order last month that could allow as many as five million people who are in the country illegally to obtain temporary legal status, based on their relationship to people with legal status.
Witnesses at Tuesday’s hearing, which focused on the legality of the move, included
, former principal deputy assistance attorney general with the civil division of the Department of Justice during the George W. Bush administration.
“In my view, President Obama’s actions exceed his authority under the Constitution,” Dupree said in his sworn testimony. “The president was correct on the many occasions where he stated that he did not have the power to do what he has done.”
Dupree noted that when the Bush administration tried to get immigration reform through Congress and failed, it was disappointed but did not resort to circumventing the legislative process.
Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, said Obama violated Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution, which states, “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”
Sekulow said the Constitution is very specific about immigration and states that Congress has the exclusive authority to “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.”
“President Obama’s actions are unconstitutional, violating the separation of powers and exceeding even his considerable prosecutorial discretion,” he said.
“Congress’s refusal to enact the president’s preferred policies does not provide a lawful pretext for violating our nation’s vital restraints on executive authority.”
The White House says on a section of its website devoted to the executive order that Obama was acting “to fix what he can to help build a system that lives up to our heritage as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.”