Multiple news outlets have reported that President Barack Obama will announce his unprecedented executive power grab on immigration on Thursday evening. He’ll then head to Las Vegas to campaign for his initiative. Unfortunately for the president, who, by the way, refused to do anything on immigration when he and his party controlled every lever of power in Washington, a very powerful individual within his own party said that his new executive order power grab is illegal.
The name of that individual? Barack Obama.
In a 2011 town hall with the Univision network, Obama was directly asked whether he could use an executive order to halt deportations.
Here’s the clip of the question and Obama’s answer (a full transcript of the exchange is below):
UNIVISION: Mr. President, my question will be as follows: With an executive order could you be able to stop deportations of the students? And if that’s so, that links to another question that we have received through Univision.com. We have received hundreds, thousands, all related to immigration.
J. Tamar, through Univision.com told us, I’m reading: What if at least you grant temporary protective status, TPS, to undocumented students. If your answer is yes, when? If no, why not?
OBAMA: First of all, temporary protective status historically has been used for special circumstances where you have immigrants to this country who are fleeing persecution in their countries. Or there’s some emergency situation in their native land that required them to come to the United States. So it would not be appropriate to use that just for a particular group that came here primarily, for example, because they were looking for economic opportunity.
With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case. Because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed. And I know that everybody here at Bell is studying hard so you know that we’ve got three branches of government. Congress passes the law. The executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws. And then the judiciary has to interpret the laws.
There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply, through executive order, to ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president. That does not mean, though, that we can’t make decisions, for example, to emphasize enforcement on those who’ve engaged in criminal activity. It also doesn’t mean that we can’t strongly advocate and propose legislation that would change the law in order to make it more fair, more just, and ultimately would help young people who are here trying to do the right thing and whose talents we want to embrace in order to succeed as a country.
Obama’s answer is unequivocal. Here’s what he said: “With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case.” And followed that up with: “There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply, through executive order, to ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president.”
Obama’s upcoming executive order on immigration is almost certainly illegal. How do we know? Because Obama told us so in 2011.