Does Obama Have Authority to Unilaterally Give Illegals Social Security Numbers? Sen. Heller: ‘I Don’t Have An Answer’

Lauretta Brown | February 25, 2015 | 10:22am EST
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Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) (AP Photo)

( – Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) told on Tuesday that he doesn’t have an answer to the question of whether the president has the authority to unilaterally give Social Security Numbers to illegal aliens.

On Capitol Hill, asked Heller: “A federal court has said giving Social Security Numbers to illegal aliens is not prosecutorial discretion. Does the president have the power to unilaterally give Social Security Numbers to illegal aliens?”

Heller replied: “I don’t have an answer to that question. Sorry, can’t help you.”

As previously reported, Heller was the only Republican to join Democrats at the beginning of this month in voting not to debate a bill that would have funded the DHS but blocked President Obama’s unilateral action to allow illegal aliens to stay and work in the United States.

“I didn’t and don’t support the president’s executive order,” Heller said at the time. “Instead of addressing the issue of immigration reform comprehensively, the bill before us today only includes language that complicates the process of finding a solution."

Heller said he wanted to "craft a viable path forward for both the Department of Homeland Security and comprehensive immigration reform."

In the case of Texas v. United States, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen issued an injunction last week blocking Obama's unilateral executive action on immigration. The Obama administration is now seeking to overturn that injunction.

Hanen’s decision conceded that the executive branch does have broad prosecutorial discretion in determining whether or not to enforce the law against an individual. However, Hanen argued 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 the executive branch’s 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," he wrote in his decision.

"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 continued.

"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.”

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