Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano accused her boss President Barack Obama of making an inaccurate statement on immigration law enforcement during testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
A hot topic during the hearing was the Obama administration’s decision to selectively enforce immigration laws. The administration decided in mid-June – via an announcement from Napolitano and a subsequent Rose Garden speech from Obama – that it would not deport illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as “young children.”
The president’s decision to selectively enforce immigration laws directly contradicts a public statement he made in March 2011. Back then, Obama said he thought “[t]here 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 ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president.”
During Thursday’s Judiciary Committee hearing, Napolitano admitted to Virginia Republican Rep. Randy Forbes that Obama’s March 2011 statement was inaccurate. “Could he have issued an executive order to do what you did?” Forbes asked her.
“Yes,” Napolitano responded.
Napolitano wouldn’t, however, go so far as to admit that Obama technically used an executive order to announce the new selective enforcement policy.
Forbes asked her if “this memorandum” was “issued on behalf of the president or under the authority of the president.”
She responded, “it was under my authority as the secretary, setting the priorities for the enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws in an effort to deal not only with these compelling cases, but the continued effort to clear the backlog to deal with the more.”
“The president obviously approved of the decision, which is what he announced at the Rose Garden,” Napolitano said. “But the decision had already been announced that morning by myself.”
“You take your authority directly from the president and the appointment he made, is that not correct?” Forbes asked.
“And the Constitution and laws of the United States, that’s true,” Napolitano responded.