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Is Obama Reviving Immigration Reform By Executive Action? Updated. By Roger Algase

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Update - November 17, 9:52 am:

Any plan by President Obama (if there is one) to expand relief from deportation to additional groups of people through executive action could at some point run into arguments that he would be abusing his executive powers. But this should not be used an an excuse for inaction for strictly political reasons.

Color Lines has a good article on this issue dated September 26, Is Obama's Refusal to Halt Deportations Justified?

colorlines.com/archives/2013/09/is_obamas_refusal_to_halt_more_deportations_justified.html

The Color Lines article quotes UCLA law professor Hiroshi Motomura as saying that Obama would be hard pressed to end deportations outright, because this would then overstep executive discretion, but there is certainly room for an expansion to other targeted groups.

However, the danger is that Obama may continue to use a legal argument which is difficult to justify, namely that he has no power to expand relief from deportation on his own, for purely political reasons.

Color Lines writes:

"With the legal argument
[for not expanding relief from deportation] looking thin, Obama's stance on deferring deportations appears again to be mostly about his five year running strategy to convince Republicans to support reform. Yet, so far, trembling before fears of a Republican backlash has not gone well for the president." (Emphasis added.)

My original post follows.

In my August 16 ilw.com post: Plan B May Already Exist. Could Obama Go Ahead With It Piecemeal? I wrote:

"If anti-immigrant zealots can get away with using "piecemeal" anti-immigrant bills to kill comprehensive reform, what would be wrong with using piecemeal administrative legalization to accomplish it over time?"


It now appears that, just at the time that Republican House Speaker John Boehner officially pulled the trigger on immigration reform this week by announcing that the House would never go to conference with the Senate on its comprehensive bill, but would only take up GOP "piecemeal" immigration bills (if anything at all), President Obama may be moving ahead with his own piecemeal executive action on reform.

The AP reported on November 15 that the administration has issued a policy directive which will allow some unauthorized immigrant relatives of US service members to stay in the US legally. See, Washington Post, Obama relies on changes to immigration rules as chances dim that Congress will rewrite laws.

The AP says:

"Obama's changes initially were broad and controversial. He instructed the government to use its discretion to find and deport only the most serious criminals
[something which has never actually been put into action, as some commentators have pointed out]. Then, in mid-2012, he announced a plan to offer young immigrants in the country illegally a reprieve from deportation and work permits for at least two years.

Now, as it appears less likely that Congress will change immigration laws, the White House is chipping away at the edges with relatively minor procedural changes."

Predictably, the AP also reports:

"House Republicans have long criticized the administrative changes."

The link is:

www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-relies-on-changes-to-immigration-rules-as-chances-dim-that-congress-will-rewrite-laws/2013/11/15/0bc9431a-4e27-...

But if the House Republicans have the power to kill immigration reform piecemeal, as they have been doing, what is wrong with the president's using his executive powers to bring reform back to life piecemeal? If he is serious about doing so, and let us hope that he is, he will have a lot of work ahead of him and will need a great deal of political courage to stay on course.

Only time will tell whether a president who has deported over a million people in five years will have the courage and political will to revive immigration reform through "piecemeal" executive action.

If there are enough of them, "relatively minor procedural changes" could be an important step toward legalization and relief from deportation for 11 million people. At least, this would amount to more than anything that is ever likely to come out of the Tea Party-controlled House of Racially Gerrymandered White District Representatives.





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Updated 11-17-2013 at 08:55 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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