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Media Matters: Even Fox News Admits That Executive Action is Legal

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Texas’ Rep. Joe Barton (R) today became the latest Republican to suggest that President Obama might be impeached should he take executive action on immigration.  Add that to the growing list of Republicans wigging out that Obama might soon do something for immigrants — Ted Cruz wants to block the attorney general confirmation, while Tea Partiers have claimed that an announcement from Obama would cause a “civil war“.

Fox News, naturally, has been a key opponent, saying that executive action would lead to “constitutional crisis“. However, as Media Matters unearthed in a piece from over the weekend, even Fox has occasionally admitted that executive action on immigration is legal and that Obama has the authority to take it:

On the November 6 edition of The O’Reilly Factor, Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl explained how prosecutorial discretion works in an immigration context, noting a series of memos written by former U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton that have prioritized certain deportations over others since 2011, a formalization of prosecutorial discretion that “reaffirms many of the principles and policies of previous guidance.” Wiehl pointed out that the memos “basically said to the ICE agents, you know, if you’ve got an illegal immigrant that’s here, unless they’ve committed a felony or multiple felonies, don’t go after them. The key words in these memos are “prosecutorial discretion.” What that means code for is, don’t prosecute.” O’Reilly followed up: “Okay, so this is like a town where the police chief would say to its cops, you know, if somebody’s smoking marijuana in the street, low-level beef, ignore it. They do that in a lot of places[.]”

Fox News host Megyn Kelly also admitted that the president has authority to use executive orders to address immigration reform and prioritize law enforcement resources. On the November 6 edition of The Kelly File, Kelly explained to her guest, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), that “the president does have prosecutorial discretion when it comes to immigration, the Supreme Court made that clear as recently as 2012.”

Watch the Megyn Kelly video below: