King: Obama Has No Constitutional Authority Not to Enforce Immigration Laws

Ali Meyer | December 3, 2014 | 12:53pm EST
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Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) (AP File Photo)

( – Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said Wednesday on Capitol Hill that President Obama “doesn’t have the constitutional authority” to not enforce the immigration laws against 5 million violators of the law. asked King, “The Constitution requires that the president ‘take care that the laws are faithfully executed.’ Where specifically in the Constitution does it give the president the power not to enforce the immigration laws against 5 million violators of that law?”

“He doesn’t have the constitutional authority to decide that he’s not going to enforce the law against 5 million violators,” King responded. “There’s a series of accumulated precedents that give the executive branch the authority for prosecutorial discretion. That’s on an individual basis only, and if they had enough resources to apply the law to everybody that breaks it, they don’t even have prosecutorial discretion.

“And so what he’s done – the president has created entire classes of people, or groups of people, that he said are exempt from the law, and then he’s issuing what some are arguing are counterfeit work permits to people that are unlawfully present in the United States. These are all constitutional violations, and the president knows that to get him into court and litigate this before he’s out of office is a very difficult task,” King said.

“He’s essentially said you know ‘I dare you’, he’s actually said it, 'so sue me.' Well he knows that the resolution of that is not going to come before his leaving office, so what he’s done is just essentially he’s decided that he thinks he can get away with it,” King said.

“And what Congress must do is – this is a constitutional issue, and Congress must – because we also take oaths to uphold the Constitution, not only the president. When the president violates his oath to the Constitution, we have an obligation - a greater obligation – to keep our oath to defend the Constitution, so we have about four things that can be done here constitutionally,” he added.

King described measures that Congress could take, including a resolution of disapproval, a motion to censure, and the power of the purse.

“And two of them are not prescribed in the Constitution, but that would be a resolution of disapproval. That would be the lowest level thing, the House could just say, Mr. President we disagree, we disapprove, and you can’t do this. I think that every Republican would vote for that, and a handful or two or maybe more of the Democrats would do that,” King said.

“Second thing would be a motion to censure the president, a resolution to censure him that would have some sting to it, but it wouldn’t have a force of effect, but it might be enough sting that at least we could have some hope that the president might then suspend or rescind his order,” he added.

“Third thing is then the power of the purse, which is clearly established in the Constitution and clearly articulated in the Federalist Papers, and that means that we can shut off funding to implement or enforce the president’s acts,” King said.

“That’s what we have to do if we’re going to preserve the authority that Congress has to write all the laws and obligate the president to ‘take care that the laws are faithfully executed.’ That’s what needs to happen if we are going to be living in a constitutional republic in future administrations,” he said.

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