(TheBlaze) -- Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Thursday defended his department’s decision to selectively enforce immigration laws through “prosecutorial discretion,” telling members of Congress that they don’t have the right to “micromanage” the executive branch.
“I think that the legislative branch … whether it’s the enforcement of immigration laws, the enforcement of criminal laws or how we conduct counterterrorism operations, needs to be careful not to intrude into the discretion that the executive branch should normally have,” Johnson said.
“You cannot, with all respect, micromanage certain functions that the Executive is charged with carrying out,” he said.
Johnson testified at the House Judiciary Committee amid numerous Republican complaints about the Obama administration’s decision to focus enforcement of immigration laws on illegal immigrants with criminal records or who otherwise pose a threat to Americans. That policy change is seen by Republicans as an attempt by the president to weaken immigration laws on his own, after having failed to get this result legislatively.
“DHS does this under the guise of ‘prosecutorial discretion,’ ” Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said in his opening statement. “The beneficiaries include many thousands of aliens who have been arrested by state and local law enforcement or convicted criminals who have been put in removal proceedings and who DHS simply has let back onto our streets.”
“In addition to simply not pursuing removable aliens, DHS has been granting hundreds of thousands of them administrative legalization and work authorization,” he added. “DHS does this under many guises, invoking doctrines with esoteric names such as ‘deferred action’ and ‘parole-in-place.’ ”