Obama Not Re-Writing Immigration Laws, Law Profs Say

A group consisting of 136 law professors has concluded that President Obama's recent actions to halt deportations for nearly 5 million noncitizens constitute a lawful exercise of executive authority. In a letter focusing on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) initiatives announced on November 20, 2014, these scholars argue that the use of deferred action fits within the legal framework as a proper exercise of an agency's prosecutorial discretion to grant persons reprieves from deportation for humanitarian and economic reasons. In their view, a distinction exists between putting people on a pathway to lawful permanent residence or citizenship, which only Congress can do through legislation, and prioritizing government resources to operate enforcement and prosecutorial activities effectively and efficiently, which these scholars argue is a legitimate executive function. The authors of the letter cite to federal statutes and regulations and offer examples of previous administrations' use of deferred action in making their case for the legality of President Obama's actions. The letter does not address the legality of other, less controversial immigration initiatives announced by President Obama, such as expanded use of provisional waivers and the proposed modernization of immigrant and nonimmigrant visa programs. A good read no less.

Timothy D. Widman is an Immigration Attorney and the owner of the Law Office of Timothy D. Widman, with offices in San Jose and Cupertino.

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