Clinton Defends Executive Action on Immigration

Susan Jones | August 1, 2016 | 5:36am EDT
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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clintonspeaks at a rally at David L. Lawrence Convention in Pittsburgh, Saturday, July 30, 2016. Clinton and Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., are on a three day bus tour through the rust belt. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

( - "When it comes to immigration, I believe strongly that comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship is not only good for people living under the shadow of deportation, it's good for the economy. So I think this is on the must-do list," Democrat Hillary Clinton told "Fox News Sunday."

Clinton said she hopes Congress will pass immigration reform legislation, but if it doesn't, she will follow President Obama's example and use use prosecutorial discretion to shield large groups of people.

"What gives you the right to do executive action?," host Chris Wallace asked Clinton. "I mean, that's Congress's position," he said.

"No. There is a lot of precedent, legal precedent, about how presidents enforce the laws," Clinton responded. "Let's look at deportation. Whoever is president gets to determine what the priorities are. My priorities are deport criminals, violent criminals, as fast as we can. Deport anybody that we think even has a possible link to terrorism.

"But don't go rounding up hard-working mothers and fathers, taking them out of the factories or the hotels or the homes where they're working, making them disappear and leaving their children alone. That doesn't make any sense to me."

Wallace told her he understands prosecutorial discretion, but by shielding "millions of people, aren't you changing the law?" he asked. "Aren't you writing the law?"

"No, because here's what I think," Clinton replied. "The Supreme Court has sent back for trial the challenges to the president's authority, to take categories of people and remove the threat of deportation."

In June, the Supreme Court deadlocked on President Barack Obama's plan to shield millions of illegal aliens from deportation, and that 4-4 tie sents the case back to a lower court.

Wallace noted that as president, Clinton would be able to name a Supreme Court justice who could break the tie in favor of the president's executive amnesty, if the Supreme Court agrees to re-hear the case.

"Well, but first let's go and have the trial," Clinton said. "That is true that I hope that I will have that chance (to appoint a Supreme Court justice), because it's not just that. It's Citizens United. It's a lot of things that I think the current court got wrong -- got wrong, respectfully, for our democracy, for how we govern ourselves."

Clinton noted that the next president will get to appoint at least one and maybe more Supreme Court justices. "And there are a lot of decisions that I approve of that this court has made -- first and foremost, marriage equality. But there are decisions that I do think that, when taken to their natural conclusion, have hurt our democracy, undermined our democracy, undermined our economy."

Clinton, describing herself as a "recovering lawyer," agreed that in legal cases, "precedent is something that you look to. But I also know that courts can take a look at precedent and determine that maybe they weren't right the first time."


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