Republicans hammer legal case against Obama on immigration

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(CNN) — Opponents of President Barack Obama’s plan, which makes sweeping changes to the nation’s immigration system by use of executive order, focused their criticism on the legal case, saying Obama has overstepped the boundaries of his authority and is ignoring the will of the people.

Republicans started attacking the plan long before and soon after the President’s prime-time address to the nation Thursday night, as GOP activists and lawmakers took to TV, their emails and their Twitter accounts to call out the commander-in-chief.

“By ignoring the will of the American people, President Obama has cemented his legacy of lawlessness and squandered what little credibility he had left,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement after the speech. “His ‘my way or the highway’ approach makes it harder to build the trust with the American people that is necessary to get things done on behalf of the country. Republicans are left with the serious responsibility of upholding our oath of office.”

Across the right, high profile Republicans vented their rage at an executive branch they see as out of control and out of touch. The party seemed to take little comfort in Obama’s explanation that his actions were in line with other actions past presidents had made.

“His actions are not only unconstitutional and in defiance of the American people who said they did not want amnesty in the 2014 elections, but they are also unfair to every immigrant who has come to our nation legally,” Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas posted to his Facebook profile.

Other Texas Republicans said that the President’s actions were not only lawless but also ineffectual.

“The president’s decision tonight will lead to more illegal immigration, not less,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement. “It is time for the president and Congress to secure our border, followed by meaningful reforms. There is no more time for political grandstanding.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina posted on YouTube his case against the President’s proposal.

“I will try to defund the effort for him to go at it alone,” Graham said in a video post Thursday night. “We will challenge him in court.”

Oklahoma’s Governor, Mary Fallin, released the following statement regarding President Obama’s plan:

“The United States is a nation of immigrants, and I am proud that people from all across the world want to come here to enjoy our freedoms and our prosperity.  We are also a nation of laws. Like all nations, the U.S. has borders. Those laws and those borders must be respected, for reasons ranging from national security to economics to health.

“President Obama’s decision to circumvent a newly elected Congress and grant amnesty to 5 million illegal immigrants undermines the rule of law. It rewards people who have illegally crossed our borders and broken our laws. His decision is an insult to the millions of people around the world trying to come to the U.S. through legal means. It’s also an affront to the American people, who elected a Congress to work with the president on matters of national importance, not to be circumvented through a legally questionable power-grab.

“Finally, I have grave concerns about the president’s amnesty plan as it relates to the fiscal stability of both our federal and state governments. The president has now unilaterally granted legal status to millions of individuals who may require state-funded medical and educational services as well as other benefits enjoyed by American citizens. All of this comes with a price tag, which the president has not addressed. This decision can be added to long list of policies supported by President Obama that are driving this nation further into debt.”

After President Obama’s announcement Thursday night, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt promised a lawsuit against the president’s plan.

“Tonight, the Administration proved once again that it is willing to mislead the American people about the effects and legality of their policy agenda. As they have admitted with respect to the Affordable Care Act, they think the American people are stupid. The American people are not stupid, and can see right through this blatantly political power grab on the part of the President.

“The President can tell the American people that he is taking this action because of his deep personal convictions about this immigration issue. But if that were true, he would have taken this action as soon as possible, rather than waiting until after the elections, so as to avoid the inevitable backlash from the voters. 

“The President can tell the American people that he is simply taking the same kind of executive action that presidents before him have taken. But if that were true, his Office of Legal Counsel would not have needed to spend months preparing lengthy legal memorandums exploring the legality of this unprecedented executive action. 

“The President can tell the American people that he has the power to take this action, but if that were true, he wouldn’t have told the American people in 2008 while campaigning for president that, ‘there are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President.’

“The President can tell the American people that this action will only be available to those who have been in the country for years. But for that to be true, the federal government would have to possess the power to ascertain when these illegals entered our country – entries that by definition occurred undetected and unbeknownst to the federal government. 

“The executive action that the President proposed tonight is ill-advised, unworkable, unlawful, and brazenly political. The administration will be held accountable.”