In making this argument, McCain said he was referencing Obama's own words. CNSNews.com asked McCain, “President Obama said Friday that his administration would like to grant work authorization to some illegal aliens. Where specifically does the Constitution authorize the Executive Branch to permit illegal aliens to work in the United States?”
“This is the same action that a year ago, I believe it was, that President Obama said he couldn’t take, because he wasn’t king. Those were his words. So, obviously the action taken without legislation through Congress, in my view, is not correct,” McCain said. “I think that it requires legislative action from the Congress of the United States,” he added. McCain appeared to be referencing a statement about immigration reform that Obama made on Univision television in October 2010. "The most important thing we can do is to change the law because the way the system works--again, I just wanna repeat, I'm president, I'm not king."
On Friday, President Obama announced that “effective immediately,” without any congressional action, the Department of Homeland Security would “lift the shadow of deportation” from hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens between the ages of 16 and 30 who have been in the U.S. at least five years and meet other criteria. “Over the next few months, eligible individuals who do not present a risk to national security or public safety will be able to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorizations,” Obama said.
The Constitution gives Congress the power to make immigration law. Article 1, Section 8, Clauses 4 and 18 of the U.S. Constitution say: “The Congress shall have the power … To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization … [and] … To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers.”