The HillTube

McCain: Obama ‘dictating' immigration policy

"The thing that may disturb people after the initial euphoria is over about this is that the President of the United States is now dictating that certain laws will not be enforced," said McCain Sunday on Meet the Press. 

ADVERTISEMENT
"That is a rather serious step. It's one thing to say you're not going to challenge a law in court, or something like that. But, I don't recall a time when any president has basically said, we're not going to enforce a law that's on the books,” he added.

McCain also called the decision a “way to divert attention from very bad news the President's had for the last three or four weeks.”

On Friday, the Obama administration announced it would stop deporting many illegal immigrants who came to the country at a young age. The policy, which could affect as many as 800,000 immigrants, would allow those under the age of 30 who have lived in the U.S. for five years, have no criminal history and who attend school, graduated from high school or served in the military to remain in the country.

While the decision does not grant citizenship to those immigrants, it does remove the threat of deportation and would allow them to work legally in the U.S. 

Republican lawmakers quickly attacked the decision, with Rep. Steve King (Iowa) saying he intended to sue the administration.

But the White House quickly defended the constitutionality of the move, saying it was an enforcement decision and not politically motivated.

On Sunday, White House adviser David Plouffe said the decision to halt deportation against certain illegal immigrants was "fully within" Obama's authority as president. 

McCain though downplayed the likelihood that GOP lawmakers would challenge the decision in Congress, saying it was doubtful they would take up the matter "with the agenda that we have."

But McCain added that he believed the president missed an opportunity to work with the GOP on comprehensive immigration reform. 

"The fact is that Marco Rubio and others have been working on a Dream Act. If the President was really serious maybe he would call him and some of us who have been involved in this issue," he said.

"What I would like to see is Marco Rubio and others are coming up, both Democrats, Republicans with a DREAM Act that I think we could negotiate on. Everyone has sympathy for the plight of these young people,” said McCain.