Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) on Wednesday warned Democrats and others that their support for President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration will only undermine the rule of law, potentially in ways they'll regret years from now.
"You may benefit from the president's failure to enforce the law today," Gowdy said at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Obama's action.
"But I'll make you this promise," he warned. "There will come a day where you will cry out for the enforcement of the law. There will come a day when you long for the law to be the foundation of this republic."
"So you be careful what you do with the law today, because if you weaken it today, you weaken it forever," he concluded.
Republicans have been fighting all week to defund Obama's action, which Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) called "one of the biggest constitutional power grabs ever by a president."
Goodlatte, Gowdy and other Republicans have said that the administration has the right to make immigration enforcement priorities. But they say it has no right to affirmatively reward illegal immigrants deemed to be lower priorities with legal protection and U.S. work permits, as Obama has proposed to do with up to 5 million illegal immigrants.
Goodlatte said at the hearing that a legal memo the administration drew up to explore its options admitted that Obama cannot "effectively rewrite the laws to match its policy preferences," and that Obama ignored the legal advice he sought.
"The memo in fact is an indictment of President Obama's actions," he said.
Republicans have tried to defund Obama's action in legislation funding the Department of Homeland Security. But on Tuesday, Senate Republicans indicated they would split the two issues, a move that's likely to be opposed by many conservatives who wanted that defunding language on a must-pass spending bill.