If President Barack Obama takes unilateral steps to grant “amnesty” to people living in the U.S. illegally, the House of Representatives must impeach him, former Rep. Tom Tancredo told TPM in an interview.
“It’s unconstitutional. He should be impeached if he tries it,” Tancredo, a Colorado Republican and outspoken immigration hawk in the House from 1999 to 2009, said Wednesday evening by phone from his home in Denver.
“Executive order is not supposed to be something that actually creates law. It’s supposed to be something that helps a bureaucracy interpret it,” he said.
Obama’s aides have promised a major executive action by the end of summer, and according to reports it’s expected to grant “deferred action” — temporary deportation relief and work permits — to up to millions of low-priority immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and his allies emphasize that they have no plans to pursue impeachment. Even some conservative House lawmakers say it’s impractical because there won’t be the two-thirds Senate majority needed to convict and remove him from office.
Tancredo’s message Boehner: do it anyway.
“Do you do what’s right or do you look at it from a political standpoint? You can say, gee, we probably couldn’t convict him,” he said. “Of course, Democrats will take full advantage of this and say it’s because he’s black. But if it’s the right thing to do it’s the right thing to do. But if you don’t do it then all of a sudden you have set a precedent for future presidents to violate the Constitution. You’ve raised the bar — you’ve made it harder to impeach somebody. It’s a very dangerous thing.”
Although Republican leaders are deeply skeptical of impeachment, a number GOP lawmakers have expressed sympathy for the idea. The appetite is unquestionably there within their base: a recent CNN poll found that 57 percent of Republicans want to impeach Obama, a number that could grow if the president takes additional unilateral steps to ease immigration rules.
Democrats are raising hell about the specter of impeachment, and senior White House aide Dan Pfeiffer predicted that Obama’s executive action on immigration would “up the likelihood” of Republicans moving to impeach the president.
An expanded “deferred action” program would build on Obama’s 2012 move to grant temporary reprieve for qualified young people brought to the country as children, sometimes called Dreamers. Immigration law experts say the legal authority stems from a 1986 law that permits the executive branch, in its exercise or prosecutorial discretion, to grant temporary reprieve to unauthorized immigrants in humanitarian cases.
In June, Tancredo lost his Republican primary bid for governor of Colorado.