WASHINGTON – Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told WND, “President Obama is demonstrating a real distaste for democracy.”
He made the comment following a Senate hearing into Obama’s executive amnesty on Thursday, which began with Cruz effectively calling the president an “emperor.”
The senator, who chaired the subcommittee hearing, began by noting Obama himself had admitted 22 times that he had no legal authority to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants.
Cruz quoted the president’s own words on the subject, when Obama had declared, “I am not an emperor.”
Sadly, the senator noted, things changed after the November election, when, somehow, “He achieved the power of an emperor.”
Following an exchange with a witness who supported the legality of Obama’s executive amnesty, WND asked Cruz if he had been persuaded there were no limits on presidential power.
“I’m persuaded that’s the consequence of the president’s theory,” replied Cruz. “And I think it is profoundly dangerous to the Constitution and individual liberties.”
The senator said testimony he’d just heard demonstrated “that the theory President Obama has put forth to justify his executive amnesty is a theory that can be used to justify ignoring virtually any federal law.”
“It is ultimately a theory that enables President Obama to behave, using his own words, as an emperor.”
And the president’s behavior fits the description, Cruz implied.
“The very definition of monarchy is one individual having the authority to make, ignore or change the law. That is a monarchy.”
But will Obama’s use of executive authority to bypass Congress prove to be an aberration, or is it setting a precedent that will be hard to reverse?
“If it (amnesty) were upheld, it would set a precedent for any subsequent president – either Republican or Democrat – to disregard any law with which he or she disagrees,” rued Cruz.
He said he would vigorously oppose that unilateral power if it were asserted by a Republican, just as he opposes such power asserted by the Democrat currently in the White House.
“Indeed, when I was the solicitor general of Texas, I went before the United States Supreme Court arguing that President George W. Bush’s assertion of the authority to order state courts to obey the world court was contrary to the Constitution and exceeded executive authority,” he said. “The Supreme Court agreed and struck down the president’s order.”
Cruz said anyone who cares about the limitations on executive power, checks and balances, and individual liberty “should be deeply dismayed about a president asserting the authority to decline to enforce any law with which he or she disagrees.”
He feared nothing could stop a future president from exercising such unilateral power in any other area of government, including tax, labor or environmental laws.
“What is so dangerous about this president is he believes he has a phone and a pen and can disregard any other branch of government,” he said.
Cruz described the situation as getting worse, with Obama now acting unilaterally in foreign policy.
“What’s striking is, that’s the very same strategy the Obama White House is laying out today to deal with the nation of Israel,” he said.
“It is no secret that the Obama political team used every force at its disposal to try to defeat Prime Minister Netanyahu in this election. The national field director for President Obama went to Israel to help lead the political campaign against Prime Minister Netanyahu.”
Cruz added, “Astonishingly, the John Kerry State Department awarded hundreds-of-thousands of dollars to a 501(c)(3) that proceeded to help the partisan political effort to defeat Prime Minister Netanyahu.
“Well, the voters of Israel did not agree with President Obama’s assessment of who is the appropriate elected leader for their nation.”
He said, rather than respect the democratic decision of the Israeli people, the “Obama White House is now threatening yet again to go to the United Nations to try to end-run democratic elections.”
He called that unilateral action “profoundly dangerous for anyone who believes in rule of law and individual liberties.”
Cruz saw the same pattern in Obama’s treatment of Israel’s mortal enemy, as the administration negotiates with Iran, ostensibly to try to stop the Islamic republic from obtaining nuclear weapons.
“[W]ith respect to Iran, the president is now saying he wants to circumvent Congress altogether, circumvent the Senate and the treaty power of the Constitution, and instead try to go to the United Nations to end-run Congress, the Constitution and the American people,” he said.
Thursday’s hearing, chaired by Cruz, reviewed a legal challenge that blocked implementation of Obama’s amnesty for as many as five million illegal immigrants, when federal Judge Andrew S. Hanen of Brownsville, Texas, found in February that the administration was not just rewriting immigration laws, but creating them from scratch.
The senator asked hearing witness David B. Rivkin Jr., partner with Baker Hostetler and former official with the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, if he agreed with that assessment. He did.
What then, asked Cruz, were the consequences if the president, under the guise of prosecutorial discretion, had the power to make law by executive order?
Rivkin said if that were the new baseline, or standard, then future presidents would be free to rewrite important laws on taxes, worker safety, and on and on.
He said it would be a “horrible situation.”
Rivkin also testified that the “deferred action” that the administration is invoking to not deport illegal immigrants is not really a matter of prosecutorial discretion, as the president claims, because it is being applied to a whole class of people, not individuals.
“It’s a pseudo-discretion, not a real discretion,” he explained, because it is not supported by the laws on the books.
Cruz asked witness Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, if the administration was issuing veiled threats to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, agents if they did not enforce deferred action. That is, were ICE agents being threatened if they detained illegal immigrants?
Kobach said it was no veiled threat; it was a direct threat by the administration that ICE agents would face punishment if they apprehended illegal immigrants.
He cited a case in which an immigrant had committed three acts of assault, two against a federal agent, but ICE agents were forced to let him go.
“I think that speaks for itself,” said Cruz.
The senator then asked a witness who supported Obama’s executive amnesty, professor Jill Family from Widener Law School, if the president’s interpretation of prosecutorial discretion is correct, does anything constrain him from picking and choosing which laws to enforce and which to ignore?
She replied, “We will have to respectfully disagree what the law allows in this situation.”
Cruz pointed out that a federal rule cannot allow actions against a federal statute.
Family responded that they disagreed on what the federal statute says.
So Cruz pressed on, asking if there any limits to the president’s power.
“Could he grant amnesty tomorrow to all 12 million illegal immigrants? Can he grant amnesty to everyone?”
Family said it depended on the statutes in question.
On Feb. 17, Judge Hanen blocked the Obama administration from enacting executive amnesty for as many as five million illegal immigrants the day before processing was set to begin.
Judge Hanen said there was sufficient merit to a suit filed by 26 states to suspend the amnesty program to determine its legality.
Hanen also said no law gave the administration authority to provide millions of “removable aliens” what the Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, called a “legal presence.”
“In fact,” noted the judge, “the law mandates that these illegally present individuals be removed.”
On March 12, the administration asked the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to block Judge Hanen’s order prohibiting the president from implementing his amnesty giving legal status, work permits and Social Security cards to millions of illegal immigrants.
On March 15, that federal appeals court denied an emergency motion from the Justice Department, or DOJ, to immediately speed up its review of the case. Instead, the court gave the 26 states and the administration until March 23 to respond to the DOJ’s request.
The administration is already appealing the Texas district court ruling, but it doesn’t want to wait for the appeal verdict before implementing amnesty.
Judge Hanen’s order blocked implementation of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents. It also stopped the expansion of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which permitted illegal immigrants born outside the United States but raised in the country to avoid deportation and gain work permits.
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