(CNSNews.com) – When asked to do so at a Thursday press briefing, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson failed to cite any law that authorized President Barack Obama to give Social Security Numbers to illegal aliens.
CNSNews.com asked Johnson: “A federal court in Texas v. United States has said giving an illegal alien a Social Security Number is not an act of prosecutorial discretion. What specific law gives the president the authority to give a Social Security Number to a foreign national in the country illegally?”
Rather than answer the question, Johnson instead noted that the administration has appealed the court’s injunction against the administration’s unilateral action on immigration.
He said: “Well, that’s a case that’s on appeal right now. We disagree with the district court’s decision but that’s what appellate courts are for. We’ve appealed the decision. We’re asking for a stay of the injunction. We went to the district judge first and the matter will be resolved in a few days. So that’s in litigation. I believe that the injunction will be reversed in a matter of time.”
Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents Program (DAPA) would grant work permits and Social Security Numbers to as many as five million illegal aliens.
In response to a lawsuit filed by 26 states, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in the Southern District of Texas issued an injunction last week blocking this unilateral action by the president, and, as Johnson said, the administration is now seeking to overturn this injunction.
In an opinion explaining the injunction, Judge Hanen conceded that the executive branch does have broad prosecutorial discretion in determining whether or not to enforce the law against an individual. However, the judge said that for the administration to provide benefits and Social Security Numbers to people who are illegally in the United States and not legally entitled to them goes beyond prosecutorial discretion.
“As a general principle, the decision to prosecute or not prosecute an individual is, with narrow exceptions, a decision that is left to the Executive Branch's discretion," the judge wrote.
"Instead of merely refusing to enforce the [Immigration and Nationality Act]'s removal laws against an individual, the DHS has enacted a wide-reaching program that awards legal presence to individuals Congress has deemed deportable or removable, as well as the ability to obtain Social Security Numbers, work authorization permits and the ability to travel," Hanen said.
"Exercising prosecutorial discretion and/or refusing to enforce a statute does not also entail bestowing benefits," he said. "Non-enforcement is just that--not enforcing the law.”
The Department of Justice's motion to stay the injunction does not claim that any specific statute gives the executive branch the authority to give Social Security Numbers to illegals. It does not address the conferring of this benefit, but instead asserts that the states have a lack of standing to "challenge an immigration policy simply because that policy has the incidental effect of making individuals eligible under state law for benefits that a state has chosen to make available by reference to federal law or policy."
The motion also says: "Plaintiffs cannot challenge the secretary’s exercise of discretion in issuing the Deferred Action Guidance” and that the guidance is “consistent with, rather than contrary to, congressional policy” and is a “valid exercise of prosecutorial discretion” that “merely provide[s] guidance to immigration officials in the exercise of their official duties.”