Rep. Barletta calls for hearings into 'prosecutorial discretion' and illegal immigration

Jun 27, 2012
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Rep. Lou Barletta (PA-11) today called on two House committees to investigate the claim that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and President Obama can use “prosecutorial discretion” in not pursuing and deporting certain illegal aliens.

Rep. Barletta sent letters to the chairmen and ranking members of the Judiciary and the Homeland Security committees asking that they look into whether the Executive Branch has the “prosecutorial discretion” to not deport some illegal aliens.

Rep. Barletta said that discretion no longer exists, and that immigration officials who cite it are breaking federal law.

“In federal immigration law, prosecutorial discretion does not exist. Congress took it away from the Executive Branch in 1996 when it passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrants Responsibility Act. That law clearly spells out the actions that must be taken by federal officials,” Rep. Barletta said. “In other words, the discretion that President Obama and Secretary Napolitano claim they can use no longer exists, because Congress deliberately eliminated it in 1996. By stating they still have it, President Obama and Secretary Napolitano are actually ordering federal immigration officials to break the law.

“Since the Executive Branch is citing a privilege that no longer exists and ordering federal immigration officials to break the 1996 immigration act, which was passed by Congress and signed into law, today I’m calling on the Judiciary and the Homeland Security committees to hold hearings to investigate the legality of this decision to use so-called ‘prosecutorial discretion.’”

Rep. Barletta also said President Obama is overreaching his constitutionally granted authority. He noted that in 2011, the president publicly said he had no choice but to follow federal immigration policy.

“So what changed? In the last 15 months, did Congress grant the president new powers? I don’t remember doing that. Fifteen months ago, President Obama said he cannot ignore congressional mandates, but suddenly, two weeks ago, he can? I’m concerned President Obama overstepped his constitutional authority in this case, just as he did in claiming executive privilege in Operation Fast and Furious. That’s why these two committees must hold formal hearings and investigate this claim of discretion in the unilateral rewriting of federal immigration policy.”

Watch Rep. Barletta speak on the House floor here.