This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 23, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ, D-N.J.: -- so that, in fact, there would be a suspension of deportation and the ability for them who otherwise qualify for what we define as the DREAM Act to be able to pursue their studies and/or serve in the military of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: Democratic Senator Robert Menendez supporting the administration's new policy on deportation of illegal immigrants. And we're back now with our panel. So Nina, ICE, immigrations and custom enforcement, has announced changes to its deportation program. Agents are now specifically urged to consider whether an illegal is studying in high school or college or is serving or did serve in the military.
Critics are saying this is a way the administration is using to try to get the DREAM Act implemented even though Congress refused to pass it. Do you think that's legitimate?
NINA EASTON, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: I think it is totally legitimate.
WALLACE: The criticism?
EASTON: In that -- in fact, activists and immigration rights activists have been pressing the president to do exactly this. Because they couldn't get the DREAM Act enacted. They have been saying let's do it administratively. He has done the same thing on labor issues, union issues, by the way.
That said, I also think this points up the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Massive deportations of college students is not, you know, it's not the answer. And you've got, you've got the Southern Baptists now and the Mormon church supporting some way to enable immigrants who are here illegally to earn their way to be here legally.
And I think the time has come to really start taking that on. And I think Republicans can, particularly with the Southern Baptists supporting this, this is something they need to take a look at.
WALLACE: Mara, your thoughts about doing an end run around Congress on the DREAM Act. And also, we need to point out several governors and police chiefs have objected to the current policy of deportation, saying that it doesn't focus sufficiently on illegals who have committed serious crimes.
MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Well that's exactly what the president has promised to do. Latino activists were asking him to issue an executive order to make the DREAM Act a law. That would truly be an end run around Congress. And he said he doesn't have the power to do that.
What he does have is prosecutorial discretion. That's existed long before he came in office. And what ICE did today, was it said here are all the factors that you can take into consideration. Some of them happen to be DREAM Act type of factors like service in the military or enrollment in college.
But I do think that Republicans have to think seriously if they want to make this an issue and say that every single student or military member who was brought here as a child but who happens to be illegal should be deported. They don't want to be the party of deportation. And I think that is all that this is.
And I do think comprehensive immigration reform will come up again. I think it's a difficult issue for both parties because the Hispanic voters are the fastest growing bloc in the electorate and this is an issue that really matters to them.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: This is outright lawlessness on the part of the administration. Whatever the politics of this, we do have a constitution. And under it, the legislature, the Congress enacts the laws and the executive executes them. It doesn't make them up.
The DREAM Act was rejected by Congress. It is now being enacted by the executive, despite the express will of the Congress. That is lawless. It may not be an explicit executive order, it's an implicit one. It's exactly as Obama is doing with the EPA. Cap and trade is rejected so it's gonna regulate the carbon emissions again through executive action.
And in this case it's even worse in the case of immigration because it's arbitrary. If you leave it at the discretion of a prosecutor, instead of having the rule of law where it applies to everybody, you can have a prosecutor here and there who will decide well this guy will get in and this guy will not entirely arbitrarily. It's corrupting and it's lawless. That is not the way you run a democracy.
WALLACE: What about --
LIASSON: You can't deport 11 million people.
KRAUTHAMMER: You deport whoever is in your custody according to your laws. There is no reason, that you have to choose between deporting a criminal and deporting others. You do both. That is what the law says. If you don't want to -- if you want to give exemptions to a class of people, let's say students, well you pass a law to say that. You don't leave it in the hands of a bureaucrat who'll make a decision. It's corrupting and it's not to be done.
LIASSON: Prosecutors have discretion in all sorts of matters.
KRAUTHAMMER: Yeah, but this is a directive that the president is ordering to do it according to criteria that the Congress has rejected.
WALLACE: Let's talk about the political implications of this, and certainly that's a large part of the decision that the president has made in the first place. What about the danger that your two panel -- fellow panelists here cited that Republicans are gonna be seen as the party of deportation, the party that's on the wrong side of this growing voting bloc that could play a very big role in a lot of key states in the 2012 election?
KRAUTHAMMER: I'd say two points. Number one, respect for the constitution trumps politics. Secondly, on the politics of it, I think Republicans have to make clear that they want to have control of the borders and they are open to anything on the table. In terms of either legalization of normalization.
Once you have that, if you tell people that the border is effectively controlled and the millions who are now here illegally are the last cohort, Americans are generous and will be open to any kind of legalization. But if people imagine that the cohort of the 11 million who are now here can be replaced in ten years by another ten, they are going to say no.
EASTON: I think there is a --
WALLACE: Real quick.
EASTON: Okay -- a Democrat effort that goes a long way. Senator Menendez has, to do that to improve with an e-verification to control illegal immigration at the same time that you are dealing with the people who are already here.
WALLACE: That's it for the panel. But stay tuned to see a campaign commercial that fails to hit the sweet spot.
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