You probably don’t know who Sarah Saldaña is, but she may assume some importance in the fight over the implementation of President Obama’s plans to halt immigration enforcement for up to 5 million illegal immigrants and offer work permits to many of them. Why? Because she was nominated in August to be the assistant secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the Department of Homeland Security, which is, of course, closely tied to the president’s plans.
It’s USCIS, not ICE, that will mainly implement the orders, but a number of opponents of the president’s amnesty — including the editors of National Review — have called for Republicans and Democrats to oppose any of Obama’s nominations whose work is related to the executive action and who support it. It certainly seems like Saldaña checks both boxes — and there’s a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing tomorrow to consider her nomination.
So Senator Ted Cruz has issued the following statement:
Ms. Saldana has made it clear in a written statement that as Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement she would enable President Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty,” said Sen. Cruz. “I do not support the President’s unconstitutional amnesty, and therefore, cannot vote for a nominee who will be another rubber stamp for illegal amnesty. I encourage my colleagues, especially those who oppose Obama’s amnesty, to oppose this nomination.
As Cruz explains, he, Senator Mike Lee, and Senator Jeff Sessions have asked Saldaña about the executive action, and found she supports the president’s plans:
I believe that the President of the United States, as others before him, has legal authority to take executive action to address areas within the purview of the Executive branch. It is my understanding that the recently announced executive action pertaining to immigration was reviewed, shaped, and considered by a number of people in whom I have great confidence, including Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder. I also understand that the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice has published an opinion explaining in great detail the legal authority and precedents for the President’s actions concerning enforcement prioritization and deferred action. Unless and until the President’s action is invalidated or withdrawn, I am bound to faithfully execute applicable laws, regulations, and policy.
In testimony, she also said she didn’t believe that the president’s plans will invite new waves of illegal immigration because the amnesty only applies to those who were in the country in 2010 or earlier — when there’s plenty of evidence that a smaller-scale version of the plan acted as a magnet.
Since executive-branch appointments now only require a simple-majority vote in the Senate, Republicans alone can’t block the nomination (or others), but they can try to peel off some Democrats or try to delay the nomination until the end of the busy lame-duck session, in just a few weeks.
Saldaña is a U.S. attorney from the Northern District of Texas, and a hearing was held for her before the Senate Homeland Security Committee in September. She would be the first Latina assistant secretary for ICE.