Conservatives hate everything about the president’s imminent immigration move, starting with its timing, and one House member is hinting that the executive action could result in impeachment, and maybe even prison time.
President Obama is expected to announce his executive action on immigration—a move which could defer deportations for as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants—on Thursday.
Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, one of the lower chamber’s most energetic critics of comprehensive immigration reform, suggested that the president’s move could potentially be grounds for impeachment, or even prison time.
Brooks said there is a federal statute (“I don’t have the citation for it at the tip of my tongue”) making it a felony to aid, abet, or entice a foreigner to illegally enter the U.S.
“At some point, you have to evaluate whether the president’s conduct aids or abets, encourages, or entices foreigners to unlawfully cross into the United States of America,” he continued. “That has a five-year in-jail penalty associated with it.”
Brooks isn’t sure on what grounds impeachment proceedings might be justified because he hasn’t seen the outlines of the president’s actions yet.
“If the president is simply not obeying a statute that is noncriminal in nature, that does not necessarily rise to a high crime or a misdemeanor,” Brooks said.
“I don’t know what he’s going to do yet,” he continued. “Until we see what he’s going to do, it is difficult to say whether he is violating a civil statute or violating a criminal statute.”
The president isn’t going to be impeached, or be sent to jail for five years. But he is definitely going to upset a lot of Republicans.
After Thursday’s announcement, Obama will travel to Las Vegas on Friday to try to build support for the move.
“It’s political and it is cynical, but it’s how he governs,” said Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert. “And how appropriate! Go out where he can be at Caesar’s Palace if he’s gonna play Caesar.”
Congress’s Thanksgiving recess is set to begin a few hours before the president’s statement. His decision to hold off on announcing the action until most members leave town has left some Republicans feeling rankled.
Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar said his timing is part of a pattern.
“It’s a cheap way to go,” Gosar said. “He’s trying to throw a Hail Mary right now.”
Gosar added that the White House also dumped documents on the Benghazi and “Fast and Furious” controversies on Fridays.
And outgoing Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann said the timing is “completely cynical.”
“It shows the cowardice of the president,” she said.
“We’re here to protect the best interests of natural-born Americans,” she continued, “and the president wants to bring a new voting bloc as an insurance policy for the 2016 elections.”
Rep. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming also said the move’s timing was “bad form.”