Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said that he’s open to exploring whether to take legal action against the Obama administration for its recent shifts in immigration policy.
Grassley, the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he has serious concerns about the administration’s new immigration policy in part because the president bypassed Congress in making the sweeping decision.
“It’s more probably legal action, because we know what the law is and you know when there’s this sort of discretion in the law, it’s based upon a case-by-case basis not doing 10,000 or 100,000 people all at once,” Grassley said during a brief interview.
Grassley said he hasn’t raised the idea of legal action with any of his colleagues yet.
“I’m not saying we won’t have more [talks about legal action],” he said. “But just not right now.”
The administration’s announcement last month allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to exercise its prosecutorial discretion for certain illegal immigrants under 30 years of age who wish to defer their deportation from the country.
The policy shift has attracted outcry from Republicans in both chambers, who are outraged that President Obama circumvented Congress to implement a version of an immigration reform measure that the GOP has effectively thwarted in recent years.
Grassley said that a legislative fix to the new announcement was not feasible so close to an election, with so much other heavy legislation slated to be addressed.
“As of now, we’re not exploring any legislative action, because we don’t have time this year,” he said. “And we wouldn’t do it anyway until we’d given a reasonable amount of time [for a response].”
Grassley and 19 other senators wrote Obama shortly after the immigration announcement last month asking more than two-dozen questions of the president. Their questions ranged from how the administration plans to fund the new policy to how it would defend the directive in court.
They asked for a response by July 3, but Grassley’s office said it has received no word from the White House on the matter.
“My first step is always to see what response we can get, but you know how we’re stonewalled,” Grassley told The Hill on Thursday.
Fellow Iowan, Rep. Steve King (R), has promised to sue the administration over the new policy if it is not dropped. King has accused the White House of violating the Constitution with its decision.
Under the new rules, the DHS will allow young people who came to the country illegally as children to remain temporarily in the United States if they don’t have a criminal record, have graduated from college, received their GED, or have military experience. Certain illegal immigrants who meet these criteria will be allowed to apply for two-year work permits.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and more than 100 Democrats have voiced their adamant support for the measure, arguing that with limited law enforcement resources, the government should focus its immigration manpower on deporting criminals who came into the country illegally rather than otherwise law-abiding young people.