The woman President Obama has nominated to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement agrees with his decision to take executive action on immigration, saying she has “great confidence” in those who shaped it.
In answers sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and obtained be The Daily Caller, U.S. Attorney Sarah Saldaña said she did not reject Obama’s action, and affirmed his authority to take it.
“I believe that the President of the United States, as others before him, has legal authority to take Executive action to address areas within the purview of the Executive branch,” she wrote. “It is my understanding that the recently announced Executive action pertaining to immigration was reviewed, shaped, and considered by a number of people in whom I have great confidence, including Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder.”
Saldaña, the county’s first Latina U.S. attorney, was nominated to succeed former ICE director John Morton, also an Obama nominee, in August. Morton resigned in 2013, moving on to a private sector position as an executive at Capitol One bank. The position has been vacant since.
Saldaña also claimed that Obama’s executive action won’t lead to a flood of new illegal immigration because it “is limited to persons who entered the United States before January 1, 2010.”
A series of questions posed by Republican Senators Jeff Sessions, Mike Lee, and Ted Cruz also grilled her on the Constitution. When asked what she thought Article II, Section 3 (the president “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,”) required of the president with regard to immigration laws, she replied, “with respect to immigration enforcement, ‘faithful execution of the laws means to me that the President must judiciously allocate limited enforcement resources to best meet the nation’s needs.” The question was prompted by the Obama administration’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, which ignored and contradicted existing immigration law.
When asked whether the president could decline to enforce a statute “because he believes the statute is not as important as other statues,” she declined to give a solid answer, saying “it can be, depending on the applicable facts, circumstances and the availability of resources.”
She also said a president can decline to enforce a statute because he believes it to be “unjust,” but that “a mere policy disagreement” was insufficient justification.