Reaction to President Obama’s nationally televised speech granting amnesty to 5 million illegal immigrants tonight was swift and cutting.

Ross Douthat, a conservative columnist for the New York Times, tweeted, “The fact that he felt the need to address and creatively redefine ‘amnesty’ but not ‘caesarism’ shows that I’ve failed as a pundit.”

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., also took to Twitter. Shortly after the speech concluded, he tweeted, “RETWEET if you agree. @BarackObama has no legal authority to issue Executive Amnesty.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told CBS News, “My heart goes out to a lot of these folks in limbo … but you don’t solve [it] by misusing the Constitution. Frankly, I’m very disappointed in the president.”

Others outside of Congress were even more blunt in their criticism.

Michael Graham ‏of News Radio 106.7 in Atlanta tweeted: “Obama: Don’t let the fact that I’m giving you the finger and screaming ‘Screw the Constitution!’ stop you from doing what I want next time.”

John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary Magazine, said, “There is no logic in Obama’s speech that justifies limiting these reforms to only 5 million illegals.”

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., said before the speech that Obama may be about to commit a felony worthy of five years jail time, reported PoliticalWire.com.

He told Slate that with his forthcoming executive actions on immigration, President Obama risks breaking a federal statute “making it a felony to aid, abet, or entice a foreigner to illegally enter the U.S.”

The president addressed the nation in a televised speech at 8 p.m. EST, in which he announced his plans to grant amnesty to up to 5 million illegals without the consent of Congress. They would be “brought in out of the shadows,” he said. And deportations would be focused on “felons, not families.”

Read a full transcript or watch the video of Obama’s speech on immigration here.

Said Brooks: “At some point, you have to evaluate whether the president’s conduct aids or abets, encourages, or entices foreigners to unlawfully cross into the United States of America. That has a five-year in-jail penalty associated with it.”

Rep. Mo Brooks

Rep. Mo Brooks

But Obama might not be impeached: “If the president is simply not obeying a statute that is noncriminal in nature, that does not necessarily rise to a high crime or a misdemeanor. I don’t know what he’s going to do yet. Until we see what he’s going to do, it is difficult to say whether he is violating a civil statute or violating a criminal statute.”

Within minutes of Obama’s speech, Californians for Population Stabilization hit Twitter with a stinging comment: “Obama just made America a sanctuary COUNTRY. (more-so than we already were) #stopexecutiveamnesty,” CAPS tweeted.

What do YOU think? Sound off on Obama granting de facto amnesty to illegals

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which invested heavily in funding pro-amnesty candidates in the midterm elections, posted an article on its website titled “The Business Case for Immigration Reform.”

The chamber said it was too early to judge Obama’s policy but added it would be “helpful” to continue “to explain that fixing our broken immigration system will create jobs, boost wages, and improve the economy.”

Critics of amnesty say it would do just the opposite – kill jobs for Americans, lower wages and destroy the economy by adding burdens to the welfare, health-care, school and prison systems.

Other Republican groups were conspicuous by their silence on the issue.

The Republican Senators Facebook page, for instance, made no mention Thursday of Obama’s looming amnesty decree, focusing instead on resurrecting the Keystone Pipeline.

The National Center for Public Policy Research issued a news release following Obama’s speech titled “Obama’s Amnesty Order Harms Jobs, Schools, Health and Simple Fairness.”

The center, which represents activists with the Project 21 black leadership network, said Obama’s action will only further divide the American citizenry and will be especially harmful to working-class Americans.

“What President Obama did is reward those who broke our laws. This will only embitter and endanger the citizenry and legal immigrants who are similarly looking for work, just scraping by and worried about their economic future,” said Project 21 Archbishop Council Nedd II of St. Alban’s Anglican Church. “God has blessed America with abundance, and I cannot fault those seeking a better life here. But the unregulated of people across our borders is problematic, unsustainable and in violation of carefully crafted rules.”

Rewarding illegal activity never sends a good message, said another leader with Project 21.

“By himself, and against the protests of congressional leaders, President Obama is giving the illegal alien community absolution for its law-breaking. Obama’s action effectively rewards the intentions of these illegals to exploit a broken immigration system and lay claim to the American way of life at the expense of its citizens and legal immigrants who obeyed our laws,” said Project 21’s Derryck Green, a southern California resident. “Our nation will undoubtedly suffer from further and a likely intensified strain on our infrastructure as well as resources that are already limited in supply due to a poor economic recovery.”

Obama is bringing profound change to America, but Project 21 leader Shelby Emmett said the nature of that change is destructive.

“What we are now witnessing with Obama’s amnesty plan is a complete destruction of our constitutional republic. We no longer seem to live under a system of checks and balances or separation of powers,” said Emmett, a lawyer and former congressional staff member who dealt with immigration issues. “We the people apparently have no more say in our representation or our form of government.”

TeaParty.org predicted “open rebellion” and “chaos” if Republicans don’t withhold funding for Obama’s executive order.

“Everything is at stake. Illegals will bankrupt our social, economic and financial systems,” the group said in an email blast.

UnfilteredPatriot.com posted a story Thursday saying that to understand the immigration issue one must “follow the money.”

It is only in the pipeline of dirty political cash that one can explain the true motives for amnesty, the website said.

While groups like La Raza and Obama himself argue that amnesty-esque policies are rooted in a greater humanity, the money behind these efforts comes from a less altruistic place. According to the [New York] Times, money has been pumped into immigration reform from sources like the Ford Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, the Carnegie Corporation, and the George Soros-funded Open Society Foundations. Over the last ten years, these organizations have donated more than $300 million to immigrant-rights groups.

Naturally, to run such a story the Times had to spend much of the article making sure the reader knew that these organizations were coming from an apolitical stance. They were interested in philanthropy, and they are driven by a moral compass that stands apart from Washington politics. It’s not until nearly the end of the story that we get to hear the other side of that claim. Dan Stein of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which stands against amnesty, said, “The whole apparatus has become the handmaiden of the Democratic Party. These foundations fund activist organizations designed to create ethnic identity enclaves and politically control them for partisan purposes.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, released a statement Thursday condemning Obama’s executive action and laying out a two-step plan to fight it.

“We are unfortunately witnessing a constitutional crisis. What President Obama’s doing is he is defying the law, he’s defying the Constitution,” Cruz wrote. “The president quite rightly said just a few weeks ago his policies were on the ballot all over the country. This last election was a referendum among amnesty and the American people overwhelmingly rose up and said, no, we don’t want lawless amnesty. And I’m sorry to say President Obama’s reaction is defiant and it is angry with the American people.

“If the president goes forward with this, if he goes forward unilaterally defying the Congress, defying the American voters, then it’s incumbent upon Congress to use every single constitutional rule we have to defend the rule of law to rein in a president so the president does not become an unaccountable monarch imposing his own policies in defiance of the American people. This is a moment of testing, and I am hopeful we will see Republicans in Congress stand up and side with the American people.”

How Congress should stop president’s ‘illegal amnesty’

Step one, according to Cruz, is for the new Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, to stand up and say, “If you disregard the Constitution, if you disregard the law, if you issue this executive amnesty, the new Congress for the next two years will not confirm a single nomination, judicial or executive, other than vital national security positions until you end this illegal amnesty.”

That’s something that’s never been done before in Congress, but the framers put in place checks and balances, and the confirmation power is a tremendously potent authority given to the Senate.

“The Senate majority leader has the unilateral ability to stand up and say if you defy Congress, if you defy the Constitution, if you defy the American people, none of your nominees will be confirmed,” Cruz said.

Step two is to cut off funding through the House’s “power of the purse,” Cruz said.

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