Hispanic Caucus Chair: Dangerous for GOP to Roll Back Obama Executive Action

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, warned that stopping President Obama’s immigration executive action could be dangerous for the Republican Party.

“The president is committed to seeing that through and there are enough members of Congress that will fight that, and I think Republicans have to be very careful about the pressure from the bottom up,” Sanchez said after a swearing-in event for Hispanic members of the 114th Congress.

“There are a lot of Latinos in everybody’s districts now, and I think they can’t ignore that growing voice that says this is the right thing to do and it’ll be at their peril to try to scale that back or cut that back,” she added.

Sanchez, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said Obama acted within his legal authority when he announced a plan to offer legalization to more than 5 million undocumented immigrations without congressional approval.

“I think it was absolutely the right thing to do and the right time to do it,” she said.

The spending bill passed by Congress before the end of the year included funding for the Department of Homeland Security until Feb. 27, 2015. Republicans have introduced legislation cutting off funding for Obama’s executive action in the context of the debate to fund DHS for the rest of the fiscal year.

Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said Congress funding DHS only through February was the wrong decision.

“I think it might even hinder our ability to make sure that our borders are secured, like we’ve done a tremendous job so far, and those are the kinds of things we need to stop doing here in Congress,” he said. “Let’s not do things from a political vantage point. Let’s look at it from a policy vantage point – roll up our sleeves and try to do the right thing.”

Cárdenas said limiting funding for Obama’s executive action after Feb. 27 is unnecessary.

“When you look at presidents who have taken action over the last decades and since we’ve had our balance of powers and our Constitution in this country, the president does know their bounds and it’s very, very seldom a president actually crosses a line and is successfully sued. I think the bottom line is that balance is already set in the Constitution,” he said.

Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas) said providing DHS with short-term funding in the spending bill was a “political maneuver” by the Republican-led House in the last session of Congress. The Democratic-led Senate also passed the bill.

Hinojosa, a member of the House Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee, was asked if he would support any limits to Obama’s executive action as a condition for DHS funding.

“Those are political maneuvers that I don’t get involved in. I do what is best for our country, what is best for our state of Texas, and what is best for my congressional district,” he said.