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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

Reminder to President Obama: USCIS Has Already Told You How to Stop Deportations

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Yesterday a heckler challenged President Obama to stop deportations. From Politico:

President Obama was heckled Monday by an immigration reform activist who argued that the president has the power to pause all deportations, a notion he challenged as he made the case for the need for congressional action.

"I need your help," a young man shouted, as he called for the president to halt the deportations of some of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. "You have a power to stop deportations for all," he added.

"Actually, I don't, and that's why we're here," the president responded as the heckler and several others continued shouting, breaking out into a chant of "stop deportations!"

But President Obama said virtually the same thing before he announced the DACA program for young immigrants last year. He can use the same legal framework to expand DACA to, for example, include parents of DACA recipients or to the elderly or other groups deemed to be a low priority for deportation. And there are more tools at the President's disposal. They were actually spelled out by USCIS in a secret memo that was leaked by officials at USCIS who presumably were trying to rally anti-immigrant members of Congress to put pressure on the President to repudiate the position that the White House had executive powers that weren't yet being used.

Perhaps the President was caught off guard and reverted to the old "I'm powerless" response, but given his Administration's prior actions and USCIS' own stated views on the subject, it probably wasn't the best answer he could have given.

By the way, for another good article on the President's powers in this area, click here.

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Updated 11-26-2013 at 03:39 PM by GSiskind

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