2016 Republicans Differ Over Criticism Of Obama’s Unilateral Action

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Make no mistake: the Republicans likely to run in 2016 for the White House are all criticizing President Obama over his so-called executive amnesty for certain illegal immigrants.

But they aren’t all on the same page. In their statements Thursday, some Republicans made it clear they oppose the substance of Obama’s policy. Others simply emphasized their objection to his executive action on procedural grounds.

Speaking from the White House Thursday, Obama announced a sweeping executive action to unilaterally halt the deportation for five million illegal immigrants.

New Jersey Chris Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, for example, are playing it safe, criticizing the president over the process of doing an unilateral action but not going out of their way to object to the specifics of the legislation. Likewise, Kentucky Sen. Rand, in his statement, sharply criticized Obama over the procedure, calling it a constitutional overreach, but didn’t address the substance of the policy itself.

Others, like former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, made their opposition to Obama’s policy a central part of their criticism of the president, arguing it is against the interest of the American worker.

Here are some of these reactions:

Rand Paul

“President Obama is not above the law and has no right to issue Executive Amnesty,” Paul said. “His actions blatantly ignore the Separations of Powers and the principles our country was founded on. The President has said 22 times previously that he does not have the power to legislate on immigration. I believe that immigration reform is needed, however for true and effective reform, we must first secure the border. I will not sit idly by and let the President bypass Congress and our Constitution.”

Chris Christie

Speaking to reporters at a political gathering in Florida on Thursday, the New Jersey governor declined to outline how he would differ from Obama on immigration policy. But he criticized the president for not working with Congress.

“He campaigned to the Hispanic community in 2008 all across this country that he was going to deal with this issue, and he refused to deal with it, and had instead decided that he wanted to do Obamacare,” Christie said, according to CBS. “He made a judgment, and now he wants to try to blame it on other people. He’s got no one to blame but himself. He made the judgment. He set the priorities. And now, apparently, bipartisanship is not one of the priorities he wants to set.”

Jeb Bush

“President Obama’s ill-advised unilateral action on illegal immigration undermines all efforts to forge a permanent solution to this crisis,” the Florida governor said in a Facebook post on Thursday night. “Action must come in the form of bipartisan comprehensive reform passed through Congress.”

“President Obama has once again put divisive and manipulative politics before the sober leadership and sound laws required of an exceptional nation,” Bush said. “It is time for Republican leaders in Congress to act. We must demonstrate to Americans we are the Party that will tackle serious challenges and build broad-based consensus to achieve meaningful reforms for our citizens and our future.”

Ted Cruz

“Moments ago, President Obama announced he would unilaterally grant amnesty to millions of people who have come to our country illegally,” Cruz wrote on his Facebook page after Obama’s announcement.

“I have one question: Why is President Obama making it easier for immigrants to come to our nation illegally rather than legally?”

“His actions are not only unconstitutional and in defiance of the American people who said they did not want amnesty in the 2014 elections, but they are also unfair to every immigrant who has come to our nation legally.”

“We are all the sons and daughters of immigrants who dreamed of opportunity in a nation where if you worked hard and played by the rules, you could achieve anything.”

Rick Perry

The Texas governor responded to Obama’s speech with a series of tweets:

“Texas knows firsthand problems brought by illegal #immigration and bad federal policy,” Perry said. “There is no more time for political grandstanding.”

“As we saw w/ thousands of UAC’s who came across the border, bad policy led to children being put at risk. cc: @BarackObama #immigration”

“It is time for @BarackObama and Congress to secure our border, followed by meaningful reforms. #immigration”

“.@BarackObama’s decisions will lead to more illegal #immigration, not less.”

Mike Huckabee

“As a former Governor, I understand that complex legislation requires working with both Democrats and Republicans, listening to all sides, compromising when possible, and ultimately executing the will of the consent of the governed,” Huckabee said. “President Obama has never learned that valuable lesson in leadership. He is wading off into dangerous waters by acting alone yet again on something as important as immigration.”

Rick Santorum

“We need an immigration policy that first and foremost stands for the best interest of America and the American worker,” Santorum said. “President Obama’s executive order providing amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants is the antithesis of this goal. At a time when millions of Americans are struggling to find work and coping with stagnant wages, the President has decided to allow an additional 5 million individuals to legally compete with the existing American labor pool — diluting wages and opportunities for American workers further. This decision flies in the face of basic principles of supply-and-demand and any interest in the welfare of the American worker.”

Marco Rubio

“We need immigration reform,” the Florida senator said. “But the right way to do it is to first bring illegal immigration under control by securing the borders and enforcing the laws, then modernizing our legal immigration system. After we do these things, we will eventually have to deal with those here illegally in a reasonable but responsible way. The President’s actions now make all of this harder and are unfair to people in our immigration system who are doing things the right way.”

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