Just a day after a congressional panel was warned of a “constitutional tipping point” resulting from President Barack Obama's use of executive powers, White House press secretary Jay Carney asserted “the job of the executive branch is to carry out the laws that are passed by Congress.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Carney was asked about Ukraine, Venezuela, Syria and other topics. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) AP Photo/Susan Walsh
Carney was specifically responding to a question from liberal talk radio host Bill Press, who asked why Obama won't sign an executive order to prevent deportations of illegal immigrants.
“These are people who would qualify for citizenship under the president's plan but they're now being deported by [the Department of Homeland Security]. Is there any plan for the president to sign such an executive order?” Press asked, noting that the AFL-CIO and National Association of Latino Elected Officials both advocated executive action.
Carney said the administration wants a “permanent solution” in the form of Congress passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
“As the president has made clear going to your question, the job of the executive branch is to carry out the laws that are passed by Congress,” Carney said, before immediately bringing up an executive action taken by Obama in 2012. “The administration has taken a series of steps to focus our resources and make immigration enforcement more strategic, including focusing on criminals and the use of deferred action for young immigrants known as dreamers.”
But executive action has been a staple of Obama's presidency.
In the summer of 2012, the Obama administration enacted “deferred action” for illegal immigrants who were brought to the country by their parents, exempting them from facing deportation.
The president has also unilaterally delayed several aspects of the Obamacare law, with no input from Congress. The president has also signed executive orders on guns. In his Sate of the Union, he even touted that he would work around Congress when the legislative branch did not enact his policies. This year, the president has talked about using “a pen and a phone” to get things done without Congress.
But in response to the question from the liberal pundit, Carney expressed concern over the separation of powers.
“The only permanent solution is a legislative one that will provide a broad based path to earned citizenship,” Carney continued. “That can only be achieved by Congress. It can't be achieved by the president. So, I think the president has answered this question many times.”
Press followed, “While you're waiting for the permanent solution, does it make sense to deport the people who could qualify for citizenship under your own plan at a rate of 1,000 a day?”
Carney again said, “The executive branch, as the president has made clear, has as its job carrying out the laws that are passed by Congress and it is simply not accurate to suggest there is a way around Congress to find a solution to the broader problem."
During a House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, George Washington University professor of public interest Jonathan Turley told the committee that Obama's use of executive power is a “destabilizing influence in a three branch system.”
“We are now at the constitutional tipping point for our system. If balance is to be reestablished, it must begin before this president leaves office and that will likely require every possible means to reassert legislative authority,” Turley, who supports Obama's politics, told the panel.