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Lofgren defends Obama at immigration hearing

Rep. Zoe Lofgren rose to President Obama’s defense Tuesday during the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing on his “executive overreach on immigration.”

In his opening statement, Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said the president “has just announced one of the biggest constitutional power grabs ever by a president.”

“The Obama Administration has crossed the line from any justifiable use of its authority to a clear violation of his constitutional responsibility to faithfully execute the laws,” Goodlatte said, adding there’s a difference between setting prosecutorial priorities and “setting enforcement-free zones for millions of unlawful aliens.”

“By boldly proclaiming that there will be no possibility of removal for millions of unlawful aliens, President Obama eliminates entirely any deterrent effect our immigration laws have,” he said. “He states plainly that those laws can be ignored with impunity. Such actions will entice others around the world to come here illegally, just like his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program encouraged tens of thousands of unaccompanied alien minors and families from Central America to make the dangerous trek to the United States.”

“By acting lawlessly and assuming legislative power, the Obama Administration is driving full speed ahead to a constitutional crisis, tilting the scales of our three-branch government in his favor and threatening to unravel our system of checks and balances,” Goodlatte concluded. “Rather than working constructively with the new men and women Americans elected to represent them in Congress, the President is making his relationship with Congress increasingly toxic by unconstitutionally acting on his own. Tragically, President Obama’s shortsighted actions have further set back congressional efforts to enact legislation to reform our broken immigration system.”

But Lofgren, D-San Jose, who is the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee, said while the president can’t change the law, he can take action within it – as has every president since Eisenhower.

“The President’s actions are lawful. They are also smart, because they will allow DHS to focus limited resources on serious criminals, recent arrivals, and gang members. Finally, they are consistent with basic American values, like accountability, family unity, and compassion, Lofgren said.

“The legal question isn’t even a close one,” she later added. “The President has clear legal authority to defer removals when it’s in the national interest. Chief Justice Roberts reaffirmed that principle just two years ago – our immigration laws recognize this authority – past Presidents have used this authority regularly. Our President is doing so now and I, for one, am grateful that he is.”

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Immigration activists target Goodlatte fundraiser

Immigration reform activists plan to protest Wednesday evening outside a Silicon Valley fundraiser for House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, asking guests to pressure Goodlatte to address House GOP leaders’ reticence on the issue.

Bob GoodlatteThe 5:30 p.m. protest near the Los Altos Hills home of Oracle Chief Financial Officer Safra Catz is organized by Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN); SEIU United Service Workers West; United Farm Workers Foundation; Student Advocates for Higher Education; and Youth United for Community Action.

“Workers in Silicon Valley and throughout the Bay Area have been calling for reform – from the tech workers and entrepreneurs in the Peninsula to farmworkers in the fields, workers call for reform that provides a pathway to citizenship, families to be reunited, and strong worker protections,” said the news release announcing the protest. “Will Goodlatte listen?”

House Republican leaders in late January rolled out a statement of principles for pursuing immigration reform, but within days were saying it’s not likely to happen this year.

Goodlatte’s website says he has “strongly advocated for immigration reform that focuses on enforcement and upholding the rule of law, including elimination of enforcement waivers that have been abused by previous and current Administrations.

“To be clear, any immigration reform proposal must first guarantee that our immigration laws are enforced both at the border and within the United States,” Goodlatte wrote. “I remain opposed to amnesty, as I always have been. I do not support a special pathway to citizenship that rewards those who have broken our immigration laws.”

The fundraiser for Goodlatte, R-Va., is organized through TechNet, a tech industry lobbying group; tickets cost from $10,000 to $40,000. Goodlatte is being challenged in this June’s GOP primary by Paul Bevington, a libertarian-leaning high school teacher.