Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) on Sunday clashed with former Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales over whether or not President Barack Obama should take executive action on immigration reform.
Multiple media outlets reported last week that President Obama could sign an executive order within the next week that would defer the deportations of up to 5 million undocumented immigrants who have children who are in the U.S. legally.
During a panel discussion on CNN, Gonzales argued that the president should be focused on securing the border because of a “nightmare scenario” where terrorists infiltrate into the country through Mexico.
“Now, 99 percent of the people that come across the border are not terrorists,” he admitted. “They are coming over primarily to seek a better life. But I do think that it is legitimate in today’s world to do what we can as a government to secure the border.”
Becerra, however, said that Obama had waited long enough for Congress to take action, and now it was time for him to use his executive authority.
“He’s now going to take action because it’s clear,” Becerra pointed out. “Republicans have had a bill sitting at their desk in the House for a year and half.”
“Why the urgency?” Gonzales asked. “We now have a new Congress, new congressional leadership. And I don’t understand the urgency. He could have taken action before the election. He made a political calculation not to do it.”
“If it were your child,” Becerra interrupted, “and you were about to be separated from your child simply because Congress is dysfunctional and doesn’t’ get its job done then you would say, ‘This is crazy. A citizen child being separated from his or her parents.'”
Gonzales countered that there was a “right way and a wrong way” to reform immigration.
“I think a preferable way, clearly is through comprehensive reform,” the former attorney general opined. “It think we would all agree on that.”
Watch the video below from CNN’s State of the Union, broadcast Nov. 16, 2014.