- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 6, 2014

Sen. Angus King, Maine independent, said he’s with Republicans who are warning that President Obama cannot and should not act unilaterally to halt deportations and grant some kind of legal status to illegal immigrants.

“I think it’s important for the country, but I don’t think that the executive should try to do it by themselves when Congress can act,” Mr. King said Thursday on CNN’s “New Day.” “I think it would set the cause back. I think you’d end up with the Republicans reacting in some way and, ultimately, this is going to have to happen in the Congress.”

Mr. King even said he agreed with presumptive Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s remarks that Mr. Obama’s acting alone on the issue is like “waving a red flag in front of a bull.”

“I think it would inflame the country and actually set the cause back,” he said.

Mr. King — who has announced he plans to continue to caucus with the Democrats in the next Congress despite their new status as the minority party — said executive action wouldn’t prompt him to caucus with Republicans.

“But I’ve got to tell you, and I’ve communicated this to the White House last summer and it wasn’t about the elections, it wasn’t postpone doing something until after the elections, my position is, you know, the Constitution doesn’t say ‘if the Congress fails to act then the president can do x, y and z.’ It just doesn’t say that,” he said.

Mr. Obama said if Republican leaders want to tackle the issue, they have “every opportunity” to do so. The Senate approved its own bipartisan bill in 2013 that would have paved the way for most illegal immigrants to eventually gain citizenship — a bill GOP candidates managed to use against some of the Democratic senators who voted for it in this year’s midterms.

“If in fact there is a great eagerness on the part of Republicans to tackle a broken immigration system, then they have every opportunity to do it,” Mr. Obama said Wednesday. “My executive actions not only do not prevent them from passing a law that supersedes those actions, but should be a spur for them to actually try to get something done.”

At the same time, Mr. Obama is also facing pressure from pro-immigration activists who say he should have acted on the issue before the election instead of putting it off.

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