Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) on Monday vowed to fight President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration in "every way possible," saying Obama has "devastated the rule of law" in America.
Sessions spoke to reporters during an event held by Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog group that recently published internal government memos it said is evidence that the administration is trying to override Congress' refusal to pass desired immigration policy. Under Obama's executive actions signed last month, up to 5 million illegal immigrants could be shielded from deportation, with the president saying he wants to focus efforts on people who have committed more serious crimes.
Sessions said Obama's actions negate the balance of power in the federal government by making Congress irrelevant.
The House of Representatives last week voted to nullify Obama's actions — a symbolic move that has no chance of becoming law, as no such bill would pass in the Senate and obviously would be vetoed by the president.
"Obama devastated the rule of law," Sessions said. "The American people were never a stakeholder in the [immigration decision], and neither were the Immigration and Custom's Enforcement employees."
A Dec. 1 memorandum to hire 1,000 new federal employees to help implement the president's actions is actually the creation of a new illegal immigration policy, said Sessions, whose office originally released the document. Republicans say there is little they can do to stop the hiring of the new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees, because the majority of the funding will come from fees gained from immigrant applications, not money designated by Congress.
"We are drifting away from a plain legal system we can really on," Sessions said. He said Obama has made more than 20 statements promising to uphold the laws on the books.
"It's bigger than the immigration question, even though that's hugely important," he said. "I think we're in a pretty serious situation, and what has occurred is the creation of an alternatively new immigration system. The president doesn't have the power to do that."
Sessions said that shielding roughly 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation goes far beyond "prosecutorial discretion," as they will be given a working visa and Social Security number.
"All of this is a scheme of immigration policy that Congress has ultimately rejected," Sessions said. "Congress said no, and the president has gone forward."
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