Hoyer: It's 'Appropriate' Under Constitution for President to Give Work Permits to Illegals

By Patrick Burke and Amanda Swysgood | June 19, 2012 | 1:02pm EDT

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). (AP Photo.)

- When asked where in the Constitution the Executive Branch is given the authority to grant illegal aliens work permits, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) did not answer directly, saying “I didn’t anticipate that question" and adding that he thinks administration prosecutors have "discretion" under the Constitution when it comes to immigration enforcement, and that it is therefore "appropriate"for the president to give work permits to some illegal aliens.

At a news briefing on Capitol Hill today, CNSNews.com asked Hoyer: “President Obama said Friday his administration would grant 'work authorization' to some illegal aliens, and I'm wondering where specifically does the Constitution authorize the Executive Branch to permit illegal aliens to work in the United States?”

The number-two House Democrat responded: “I think the -- I didn't anticipate that question in terms of having looked at it, but let me give you my best cut at it."

“The president of the United States has the responsibility to execute the laws of the United States," said Hoyer,  "and what he has said is -- in terms of prosecutorial discretion -- that he wants to give these folks under three defined parameters an ability to have a two-year waiver, which could be re-applied for in order for them to continue to go to school and/or to work."

“I think that's appropriate, I think [that's in] the best interest of our country and that's why the president has taken that action," said Hoyer.  "[And] in terms of prosecutors clearly have discretion in terms of what cases they're going to bring or not bring and I don't think anybody questions that under the Constitution."

Last Friday, President Obama announced that “effective immediately,” without any congressional action, the Department of Homeland Security would “lift the shadow of deportation” from hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens between the ages of 16 and 30 who have been in the United States at least five years and meet other criteria.

“Over the next few months, eligible individuals who do not present a risk to national security or public safety will be able to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorizations,” Obama said.

The Constitution gives Congress the power to make immigration law.

Article 1, Section 8, Clauses 4 and 18 of the U.S. Constitution say: “The Congress shall have the power … To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization … [and] … To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers.”

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