By CNN staff
(CNN) — Opponents of President Barack Obama’s plan, which makes sweeping changes to the nation’s immigration system by use of executive order, focused their criticism on the legal case, saying Obama has overstepped the boundaries of his authority and is ignoring the will of the people.
Republicans started attacking the plan long before and soon after the President’s prime-time address to the nation Thursday night, as GOP activists and lawmakers took to TV, their emails and their Twitter accounts to call out the commander-in-chief.
“By ignoring the will of the American people, President Obama has cemented his legacy of lawlessness and squandered what little credibility he had left,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement after the speech. “His ‘my way or the highway’ approach makes it harder to build the trust with the American people that is necessary to get things done on behalf of the country. Republicans are left with the serious responsibility of upholding our oath of office.”
Across the right, high profile Republicans — including potential 2016 White House hopefuls — vented their rage at an executive branch they see as out of control and out of touch.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said he “will not sit idly by and let the President bypass Congress and our Constitution.”
“President Obama is not above the law and has no right to issue executive amnesty. His actions blatantly ignore the Separations of Powers and the principles our country was founded on. The President has said 22 times previously that he does not have the power to legislate on immigration,” Paul said in a statement.
The GOP seemed to take little comfort in Obama’s explanation that his actions were in line with other actions past presidents had made.
“His actions are not only unconstitutional and in defiance of the American people who said they did not want amnesty in the 2014 elections, but they are also unfair to every immigrant who has come to our nation legally,” Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas posted to his Facebook profile.
Other Texas Republicans said that the President’s actions were not only lawless but also ineffectual.
“The president’s decision tonight will lead to more illegal immigration, not less,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement. “It is time for the president and Congress to secure our border, followed by meaningful reforms. There is no more time for political grandstanding.”
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, though, offered a more muted reaction — focusing his criticism on how Obama handled the changes he announced Thursday night.
“We need immigration reform. But the right way to do it is to first bring illegal immigration under control by securing the borders and enforcing the laws, then modernizing our legal immigration system,” Rubio said in a statement. “After we do these things, we will eventually have to deal with those here illegally in a reasonable but responsible way. The President’s actions now make all of this harder and are unfair to people in our immigration system who are doing things the right way.”
Some Republicans were working on ways to block Obama from implementing his immigration order. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina posted on Youtube his case against the President’s proposal.
“I will try to defund the effort for him to go at it alone,” Graham said in a video post Thursday night. “We will challenge him in court.”
Others said they’ll look to government funding bills. Louisiana Sen. David Vitter pledged on Twitter that he will do “everything I can” to stop Obama’s move, “starting with removing any funding for amnesty.”
™ & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.