In an appearance on Fox News Channel’s Hannity show, Geraldo Rivera attempted to justify President Barack Obama’s executive orders protecting millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, blaming “hard-core, tea party radicals” in Congress for forcing the President to act, but found himself repeatedly slapped down rhetorically by both the host of the show, Sean Hannity, and his fellow guest, A.J. Delgado, a National Review columnist and contributor at Breitbart.com.
Hannity began the segment by asking Rivera, “What does it say about a man that has promised to faithfully execute the laws of the United States, took an oath to uphold the Constitution, and is doing something he has repeated said was unlawful and unconstitutional?”
Rivera responded that his “constituents” were the “five million whose lives have been made immeasurably better by what he did…these families, these are law-abiding good people, hard working people, no criminal record,” but was forced to admit that Obama had been a hypocrite for going back on his previous statements by pursuing these reforms via executive order. Nevertheless, Rivera enthusiastically supported Obama’s policy. “This is the position I urged him to take early on, this is the position I’ve been advocating for many years now.”
Hannity then turned to Delgado for her view. “We have a very clear separation of powers in our Constitution, and that has been violated — it’s a really dark day in American history when a President can take action that’s so monumental as this is, and do so with the stroke of a pen,” she said.
“Geraldo, when I heard you say earlier that your constituents are the five million who have been helped by this, I’m an American. I’m a Latina, but I’m an American,” Delgado, an American of Cuban descent, continued. “My constituents are fellow Americans, and those fellow Americans whose unemployment rates will be higher because they have added competition for jobs now, whose wages will be decreased, who will see increased illegal immigration in the border towns in which they live, and [it is a] slap in the face of the many current Americans who came here legally and did things the right way.”
“I’m an American and I care about my fellow Americans,” she added, “Not the five million who are arrogant enough to flagrantly violate our laws and come here and issue a slap in the face who didn’t.”
Rivera’s response was to echo arguments made by the President, blaming Congress for forcing the Obama to act. Rivera said that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) “is not in control of the House of Representatives on this issue, leaving in charge “the most hard-core, tea party radicals, who have no intention whatsoever of ever considering immigration reform.”
Delgado shot back, “The tea partiers are the radicals? Really? Who has the lawless President? Who has the radical when the Democratic President has disregarded our Constitution?”
Hannity then jumped back in. “Just because Congress doesn’t act the way the Emperor wants, that doesn’t take away the process,” he said. “This isn’t about prosecutorial discretion here. This is about the President writing a bill that he constitutionally does not have the power to do…we have Congress, they pass the bills whether the President likes it or not, he has a chance to sign it…if a Republican president does it on an issue you don’t like, what does it mean then?”
Rivera returned to blaming Congress, “the obstruction by the radicals in the House,” mentioning the much-criticized immigration bill that passed the then-Democrat controlled Senate but was unacceptable to the Republican-controlled House. “So what?” responded Hannity, saying that was just part of the legislative process, mentioning the more than three hundred bills passed by the House that the Senate had refused to consider. “Too bad! Too bad!” added Hannity. “That doesn’t allow the President to be a king….that doesn’t mean you get to make up laws.”
Rivera then attempted to draw an analogy to past executive orders on immigration by Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, but Delgado quickly slapped him down. “That is not true, Geraldo,” she said. “They were acting under law that was already established, already underlying laws that had been passed by Congress.” As Rivera continued to insist on his point, Delgado shook her head and retorted, “Read! I can’t explain it to you, I’m sorry.”
“Do it legally, Geraldo,” concluded Hannity. If you want immigration reform, “do it legally — don’t shred the Constitution.”
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.