On Monday, conservative Senators warned against nominating someone who has vowed to implement President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty to head the agency that is supposed to enforce the country’s immigration laws.
The Senate will vote on Tuesday to confirm Sarah Saldaña to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). When Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Mike Lee (R-UT) asked Saldaña if she opposed Obama’s executive amnesty, she replied to the Senators that she would implement it:
I believe that the President of the United States, as others before him, has legal authority to take Executive action to address areas within the purview of the Executive branch. It is my understanding that the recently announced Executive action pertaining to immigration was reviewed, shaped and considered by a number of people in whom I have great confidence, including Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder.
I also understand that the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice published an opinion explaining in great detail the legal authority and precedents for the President’s actions concerning enforcement prioritization and deferred action. Unless and until the President’s action is invalidated or withdrawn, I am bound to faithfully execute applicable laws, regulations and policy.
After enacting his executive amnesty, Obama declared that most of the seven million illegal immigrants who do not qualify for executive amnesty are less likely to be deported unless they have committed violent crimes. In fact, Obama said his administration wanted to “retrain, reprioritize, and refocus ICE officials” to not deport illegal immigrants who are not violent criminals.
Sessions and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) spoke out against her nomination on the Senate floor, with Sessions saying that Saldaña’s response in support of Obama’s executive amnesty reflected “a remarkable disregard for the rule of law that demonstrates the difficulty she’ll have as being the leader” of ICE, which is tasked with enforcing the country’s immigration laws. Sessions noted that he worked with ICE officials when he was a U.S. Attorney and said that Obama has decided to tell ICE officials “not to follow their duties.”
“The first priority of Congress must be to restore the rule of law, secure the border, and bring the administration into compliance with the laws of the United States,” Sessions said. “Congress cannot and must not confirm anyone to lead an agency in DHS or other law enforcement agency who supports executive amnesty. Congress cannot vote to accelerate its own demise.”
Saying that it “would be unthinkable to yield to the confirmation of such nominees in the face of so grave a threat to our Constitutional order,” Sessions emphasized that Obama’s executive amnesty is neither “lawful” nor “constitutional” and definitely “not a legitimate use of prosecutorial discretion.” He said Obama’s executive amnesty “goes beyond anything I’ve ever seen, perhaps this nation has ever seen in terms of violating the laws passed by Congress.” Earlier in the month, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) declared that Saldaña would merely be “another rubber stamp” for Obama’s “illegal amnesty.”