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Special Report

All-Star Panel: A big court ruling on immigration

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEH JOHNSON, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I strongly disagree with the judge's ruling. As the president has said, it will be appealed promptly. Very often appellate courts reverse what lower courts do. And so, the executive actions that we are moving forward with are on hold for the time being, but this ruling will definitely be appealed and I believe it will be overturned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Homeland Security Secretary here on "Special Report." We're back with the panel. Laura, it is frozen, the action, the executive actions. And now the question for the secretary, which is I assume why he showed up late today, is the funding question. What do you think happens?

LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think at this point frozen. They are going to try, if they can, to live up to the court ruling but it's killing them. And I see it on his face. He didn't like what happened today. Irreparable harm, the court decided there would be irreparable harm to the states if they allowed this to go forward, likelihood on the success of the merits, two of the three prongs of the injunctive relief. It didn't surprise me at all. I think the he's wrong. The court of appeal will uphold this. I think the Supreme Court would ultimately uphold this. I think they lose on this.

It will be interesting to see if the Republicans take this as an off ramp on this DHS funding question. I think you are going to see Boehner and McConnell maybe come out jointly and say we have to let the judicial process go forward. We're delighted to see court push up against this unconstitutional action, maybe try to step back. I think that will infuriate the base of the party, though.

BAIER: What about this whole argument, George, about the funding of DHS and how people show up without getting paid and the list of things that Secretary Johnson listed there, the poor effects of this if it were to go forward?

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, again, we have some experience with this, that is in the government shutdown of 2013 DHS sailed right along nicely because they declared everybody essential and everybody came to work. So the idea that there will be chaos or vast gaps in the security of the country is untenable.

I think one thing about this lawsuit that's important to appreciate is it's the result of some underappreciated development in American politics, and that's the election of a lot of feisty Republican attorneys general at the state level who are arguing that when the president usurps the powers of Congress he directly injures the states because their interests are represented in Congress. And, this executive fiat imposes serious financial costs on the states. We shall see whether Laura's prediction is right.

BAIER: It's not insignificant that it's 26 states led by Texas filing this lawsuit and now this injunction.

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: No but it's overtly political. It's political in terms of the judge having spoken out in political terms about his distaste for the president's ruling previously. And I think it's political when you read the decision and he says, yes, the president has discretion in how he applies immigration law. There's no question. But the class is so large in this case potentially impacting millions of people that it therefore, amounts to a rewriting of the law and, therefore, has impact on the states, and just the way that George was talking about because we have now so many Republican governors, attorneys general, and the like.

So the question is, is that the case? And I would argue what the courts will rule in the fifth circuit in New Orleans, contrary to what Laura was saying, I think they'll say no, it's not a class. You have individuals who are willing to apply to have themselves identified as illegal and to request that they not be deported.

BAIER: But what about the president saying 22 times that he didn't have the authority to do what he did?

INGRAHAM: They have the Office of Legal Counsel, Bret, in the Justice Department that reviews potential actions. I would imagine somewhere along the line OLC wrote a letter to the White House, I'd love to see it, judging whether or not they thought this was constitutional action. At some point they must have said, no, Mr. President, you can't do. That's why he came out 22 times and said he didn't have the authority to do it.

But in the lame duck session he felt he might as well go for broke. A lot of these Republicans are with me anyway. They want to do this immigration reform. They want to get it off the table, maybe for Jeb Bush so he can come on and say, look, I wasn't there when this was done but let's move on. So I think he knows that in their heart a lot of these Republicans want to do this. They didn't want to do it this way but it was going to put them in a box.

I think George's point on this funding of the border security, Jeh Johnson said, oh, this is just going to hurt our funding. We are not going to do border security. A lot of border patrol officials say they are holding them back as it is now on the border and they're not doing any interior enforcement unless someone basically is a violent criminal, and even then some of those guys get released. So that argument seemed really specious.

BAIER: Do you agree with Laura about the off ramp that Republicans are going to take or do you think that this is going to be another full blazing attack with this ruling pending?

WILL: I hope they take the off ramp and use this as an excuse to step back, step out of a box they have built and put themselves in.

By the way, speaking of politics, there is a political dimension to what the president has done. I just don't mean appealing to Hispanic voters. What he's doing is enabling millions of people to enter the workforce legally. That means they can be unionized. That means they can begin to pay dues to finance Democratic campaigns. This is a campaign finance measure.

WILLIAMS: Let me just say, the polls show Americans, Republican, Democrat, and independents agree with the Democrats, will blame the GOP, and I think that's going to be damaging with Hispanics as well.

BAIER: Well, there are some on Capitol Hill who believe that the Republicans should stand up and that the president forced them in this point.

That is it for the panel. We will be talking about it much more. But stay tuned for box office hits you may have missed.