Congress and the American people "will not stand" for altering or suspending the nation's immigration law by executive action, Senator Jeff Sessions (shown, R-Ala.) said in a Senate speech Monday, warning that the president is planning to lead the nation into "exceedingly dangerous waters."
"Congress makes laws, the executive branch executes those laws. It's that simple," the three-term senator said in an impassioned speech on the Senate floor. Sessions warned of a constitutional crisis if President Obama follows through on his promise to act "without Congress" to achieve immigration reform.
"Such calculated action strains the constitutional structure of our republic," Sessions said. "Such unlawful and unconstitutional action, if taken, cannot stand. No Congress, Republican or Democrat, can allow such action to occur or to be maintained. The people will not stand for it. They must not stand for it," he continued.
Sessions was a vocal opponent of the bipartisan immigration reform bill the Senate passed by a vote 68-32 last year, saying at the time that the granting of legal status and a path to citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants is "not coterminous with, not in harmony with, the nation as a whole." Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said the Republican-controlled House will not act on the bill this year, a decision an obviously angry Obama denounced when addressing reporters in the White House Rose Garden on June 30.
"And in this situation, the failure of the House Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad for our security, it's bad for our economy and it's bad for our future," the president said in announcing "a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can, on my own, without Congress." Obama and his aides met that day with representatives of groups pushing immigration reform to discuss plans for moving on the issue before the November midterm elections, according to various media reports. "He seems resolute that he's going to go big and go soon," Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-reform group America's Voice, told Time magazine.
Obama issued a "policy directive" in June of 2013, instructing Justice Department and Homeland Security officials to cease deportation proceedings against, and to grant temporary work permits to, illegal immigrants under 30 who arrived in the United States prior to their 16th birthday. That, said Sessions, has "created an unprecedented, unlawful flow of more young people" into the country. For the president to now grant millions of adults "amnesty by executive order," he added, "will collapse any remaining moral authority of our immigration law, undermine the sovereignty, really, of our nation." The senator's advice to the president is "pull back."
"It is utterly unacceptable for you to meet with special interest groups, La Raza and others, and then promise action that is contrary to law," Sessions said, adding that he was not suggesting any "parley or any compromise. There is no middle ground on nullifying immigration law by the President."
Sessions made no mention of impeachment, a subject that has been bandied about between Republicans and Democrats since former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin called for Obama's impeachment if he takes further action to prevent enforcement of immigration laws. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) seconded that view over the past weekend, saying on Breitbart News Saturday that if the president takes such action, "we need to bring impeachment hearings immediately before the House of Representatives. That's my position and that's my prediction." Speaker Boehner has ruled out any impeachment vote and made no mention of immigration in an op-ed article explaining why the House will bring suit against the president over executive orders delaying provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Democrats are claiming House Republicans plan to initiate impeachment proceedings against the president if their party wins control of the Senate this November, while Republicans say the Democrats are talking up impeachment as scare tactics to spur campaign contributions.
With Congress due to begin a five-week recess on Friday, Sessions called for "Congressional action this week to bar unilateral, imperial action by the President" and prevent "what could be a constitutional crisis." He urged his colleagues to end "acquiescence to executive overreach" and pass legislation now to bar work permits for millions more illegal immigrants in a time of high unemployment, "thereby protecting American workers."
"If President Obama is not stopped in this action, and he exceeds his powers by attempting to execute such a massive amnesty contrary to law," he warned, "the moral authority for any immigration enforcement henceforth will be eviscerated. Anyone, the world over, will get the message: Get into America by any method you can and you will never have to leave. We are almost there, but it is not too late."
Photo of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.): AP Images