Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (AP)
Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told then-President Barack Obama in the
summer of 2014 that he could use "very broad power" to
limit immigration as he saw fit, according to a letter obtained by
the July 29 letter, Feinstein cites Section 212(f) of the
Immigration and Nationality Act -- the same federal legislation
cited by the Trump administration Thursday in unveiling a rule
denying asylum claims to migrants who enter the country illegally.
the president finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of
aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests
of the United States," the legislation states, "he may by
proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary,
suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants
or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions
he may deem to be appropriate."
letter initially notes that the senator has discussed possible
legislation with then-Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
Feinstein then writes: "there is also an argument that there is
sufficient flexibility in current law for the government to respond
to the current crisis and that further legislation is not needed."
She adds that the authority vested in the presidency by Section 212
(f) means that "no legislation is necessary to give your
administration the tools it needs to respond to this crisis, and
that any needed temporary measures can be implemented through
response to Feinstein, then-acting Immigration and Customs
Enforcement Director Thomas Winkowski wrote that "[w]hile there is
no express prohibition on using the broad, general authority
conferred by section 212(f) to help respond to the influx of
unaccompanied children, any such use would require careful study
for Feinstein did not immediately return emailed requests for
comment. Since Trump's election, Feinstein has been a prominent
critic of his immigration policy.
is an unprecedented crisis at our Southern border where aliens
understand that they can enter the country illegally, avoid removal,
and ultimately remain in the U.S. living and working illegally,"
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesman Michael Bars
said in a statement. "The congressionally delegated authority for
our president to handle crises at our border appropriately is
recognized historically as a bipartisan approach to solving some of
the most endemic challenges to national security and public safety.
By strengthening the integrity of our lawful immigration system,
both the interests of the American people and legitimate asylum
seekers properly presenting themselves at ports of entry prevail."