Goodlatte rips Obama immigration policy

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee issued a scathing indictment of President Obama’s immigration policies Thursday, suggesting the current enforcement program violates the Constitution and would be made worse if the administration moves to further curtail deportations.

“The Obama administration has taken unprecedented, and most likely unconstitutional steps in order to shut down enforcement of our immigration laws for millions of unlawful and criminal aliens not considered high enough priorities,” Rep. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteRepublicans fear retribution for joining immigration revolt Immigration petition hits 204 as new Republican signs on GOP centrists threaten to use conservative’s weapon against them MORE (R-Va.) said.

Goodlatte, during remarks at the start of an oversight hearing on Department of Homeland Security operations, said the agency has halted deportation proceedings for thousands of illegal immigrants under the “guise” of prosecutorial discretion.

The administration has granted hundreds of thousands more illegal immigrants administrative legalization and work authorization, Goodlatte added.

He assailed Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson’s ongoing review of deportation policies as part of a thinly veiled plan to relax immigration enforcement. President Obama directed Johnson in March to examine ways of making deportation policies more “humane.”

“These are simply code words for further ratcheting down enforcement of our immigration laws,” Goodlatte said. “We do not know yet how far Secretary Johnson will go.”

Johnson testified at the hearing that he agreed with the president’s decision to delay the issuance of any findings or recommendations based on the review, saying the administration would prefer Congress act this summer on a sweeping immigration bill.

Still House Democrats repeated earlier calls for the president to go it alone on immigration if Republicans refuse to move on legislation.

“I stand committed to work with my colleagues for legislative reform,” said Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). “But if my colleagues won’t act to fix a system we all agree is broken, then I fully support the president doing what he can under current law to improve that system.”