A picture of Senator David Vitter
David V.
Republican LA

About Sen. David
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  • Nomination of Vivek Hallegere Murthy to Be Medical Director in the Regular Corps of the Public Health Service, Subject to Qualifications Therefor as Provided By Law and Regulations, and to Be…

    by Senator David Vitter

    Posted on 2014-12-15

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    Read More about Nomination of Vivek Hallegere Murthy to Be Medical Director in the Regular Corps of the Public Health Service, Subject to Qualifications Therefor as Provided By Law and Regulations, and to Be...

    VITTER. Madam President, I rise to strongly oppose the nomination of Sarah Saldana to head ICE for a very simple reason: If confirmed as the head of ICE, Ms. Saldana would be a key player in the administration to help [[Page S6846]] President Obama further a very bad policy that is very unconstitutional and completely beyond the President's proper constitutional authority.



    In my opinion, it all comes down to this very important issue of his Executive amnesty--his recent decision, without authority, to move forward on his own, without legislative approval and without congressional action, to grant about 5 million illegal aliens in this country an Executive amnesty.

    I think that is a horrible and dangerous decision for two reasons.

    First of all, I think the policy is wrong and is guaranteed--alas, even designed--to produce more illegal border crossings, which will increase the problem, not solve it. Some things are pretty simple, and one simple rule with regard to law enforcement is that when you reward certain behavior, you are going to get more of it, not less of it. Through his Executive amnesty, President Obama is clearly rewarding that behavior and rewarding illegal crossings. In every instance in our past when that has happened--including a 1986 amnesty that was at least passed through Congress--it produced more of that behavior, more of the illegal crossings, and more of a problem, not less of it. I think it is horrible policy from that point of view.

    The second reason I am very concerned about this recent Executive action is even more fundamental, and that is because I think this is clearly beyond the President's proper legal constitutional authority. I think his actions are clearly unconstitutional, beyond that authority, and therefore a very serious matter for the country and the Congress to focus on.

    I am the first to admit that every President has significant Executive power, and every President has the power to provide details when statutes are silent about them, to figure out necessary details in implementing and in executing statutes. His job as the Executive is to execute. But that is fundamentally different from taking action that is completely contrary to statute. Of course, that is what the President is doing in this case--granting amnesty to about 5 million illegal aliens when the statute, properly passed through Congress, says these folks came into our country illegally, they are here illegally, and allowing them to stay here and work is contrary to law.

    Again, it would be one thing if the President had to figure out details consistent with that statute, but instead he is taking action directly contrary to those statutes and that directive. It is not simply prosecutorial discretion. It is not simply saying, well, because of a particular circumstance, we are not going to prosecute that case or this case or that case over there. He is making a broad policy which will affect about 5 million cases, and he has gone way beyond saying: We won't prosecute these cases. He is having his bureaucracy--his administration--actually issue work permits by giving folks who cannot work legally in this country work permits. He is telling employers to hire them because they have this new work permit. He is giving them Social Security numbers and other affirmative identification. Again, that is not figuring out the details on how to execute law; that is not figuring out unspoken details about how to further law; that is acting directly contrary to our law and to our statutes on this very topic. Clearly, anyone in the position of heading ICE, including this nominee, Ms. Sarah Saldana, if she is confirmed, would be clearly and directly furthering that bad policy and illegal and unconstitutional action.

    To the point of this being unconstitutional, don't take my word for it. There are a lot of authorities on the subject, a lot of legal authorities, such as professors and academic experts.

    The Supreme Court directly recognized that on the policy of immigration in particular, Congress absolutely has clear authority to act in that area under the Constitution. In fact, in previous opinions, the Supreme Court has written that ``over no conceivable subject is the power of Congress more complete'' than on immigration.

    Another interesting expert and source on this topic is President Obama himself. Prior to taking this enormous action--in the years prior--President Obama said very directly to his supporters urging him in this direction: I don't have the authority to do it. He repeatedly acknowledged that.

    He said: This notion that somehow I can just change the laws unilaterally is just not true.

    He also stated: For me to simply, through executive order, ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President.

    Well, President Obama was right back then. The problem is his recent actions--his Executive amnesty--constitute a complete turnaround on that by doing exactly what he himself previously said he doesn't have the authority to do.

    Again, why is this pertinent? Because Sarah Saldana, if confirmed to head ICE, will be a key participant in the administration thereby furthering this policy that is a bad policy. It is a counterproductive policy that will make it worse, not better. Even more seriously, it will further this action, which is illegal, unconstitutional, and well beyond the President's constitutional authority.

    This is serious stuff. This is serious constitutional business, and I urge my colleagues to look hard at these matters. After they do look seriously at these matters, I urge my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, to vote no on this confirmation.

    Again, the whole issue is serious. Illegal immigration is a vexing problem. Yes, we need to act. It is a complete straw man for the distinguished leader on the Democratic side to say that Republicans in the House--or anybody else--just don't want to act. Of course we need to act. Of course we have proposed actions.

    The question is, what actions, in what order, in what time? This action is wrong on so many grounds. It is wrong on policy because it is going to make the problem worse. It is rewarding illegal crossings, so we will get more of them. It is wrong, even more seriously, on constitutional grounds. It has gone well beyond President Obama's legal and constitutional authority. Based on those serious areas of concerns, I urge my colleagues to vote no on this confirmation.

    I suggest the absence of a quorum.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

    The assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.

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