On one side is Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who supports the President’s action:
If anyone still had any doubts about the legal ground on which the president stands with his recent announcement, he or she need only look at Arizona v. United States, the Supreme Court case handed down last week declaring most of Arizona’s SB 1070 “Show Me Your Papers” law unconstitutional.
The court ruled that Arizona could not mandate federal immigration priorities because, “A principal feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials. … Federal officials, as an initial matter, must decide whether it makes sense to pursue removal at all. … Discretion in the enforcement of immigration law embraces immediate human concerns. Unauthorized workers trying to support their families, for example, likely pose less danger than alien smugglers or aliens who commit a serious crime.”
I have never pretended to be a legal scholar, but when scores of lawyers are lining up to agree with the Supreme Court that the president has the power to make choices when it comes to whom to deport and whom to let stay, then I tend to agree with them. While there are those who want to launch partisan attacks at this president, he is on rock-solid legal ground.
Launching the partisan attack with the opposing view is Rep. Lamar Smith, who works hard to be the most viciously anti-immigrant member of Congress. To give a sense of Smith’s screed: In just nine short paragraphs, he uses the word “amnesty” eight times.
Smith also accuses Obama of “misleading” the American people. That’s quite ironic coming from Smith, considering his first paragraph:
Last year, President Obama said that he couldn’t “suspend deportations through executive order” because “there are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system.” He also noted that “Congress passes the law. The executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws.” But President Obama has contradicted himself and his word, and has broken his promise to the American people.
Smith wants to talk “misleading” the American people? See, Smith left off the full quote from Obama. Here’s the rest of what the President said at a Univision Town Hall:
That does not mean, though, that we can’t make decisions that emphasize enforcement on those who have engaged in criminal activity. It also doesn’t mean that we can’t strongly advocate or propose legislation that would change the law in order to make it more fair…more just and ultimately would help young people do the right thing and whose talents we want to embrace in order to succeed as a country.
And that’s what the President did. His plan to provide relief to DREAMers is all about the prioritizing enforcement. As Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Smith should know that. But he’s blinded by his anti-immigrant zealotry.
Clipping Obama’s quotes on this subject has become a favored tactic of the anti-immigrant forces, and they’ve already been busted for it. Last month, Jon Stewart showed how FOX News attacked Obama for a 2011 interview where the President used language similar to that quoted in Smith’s first paragraph — but just like Lamar Smith, FOX News didn’t include the full quote where Obama reserved the right to do exactly what he just announced on June 15th.
That’s what we call “misleading.”