Congressman Lou Barletta, whose hard-line stance on illegal immigration propelled him into the national spotlight in 2006, has called for investigative hearings regarding a directive from the Obama Administration that allows federal officials to use discretion and not deport illegal aliens if they meet certain criteria.
At a Monday afternoon press conference in his hometown of Hazleton, Barletta criticized the Obama administration and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for improperly using "prosecutorial discretion" in granting indefinitely renewable two-year work permits to illegal aliens.
Barletta said the development effectively grants "de facto amnesty" to as many as 1.4 million illegal immigrants and has asked leaders of the House Homeland Security and Judiciary committees to hold investigative hearings on the Obama administration's ability to use prosecutorial discretion when deciding not to deport illegal aliens.
The congressman contends that while the president has the right to exercise prosecutorial discretion, Congress passed a law in 1996 that takes that ability away from the president in cases involving immigration issues.
"By using prosecutorial discretion, the president is actually ordering federal immigration officers to break the law by not enforcing the law," Barletta said. "The 1996 law is very specific that federal immigration officials must enforce the immigration laws, and it is not their discretion whether they can or cannot."