November 18, 2014

3 Sources of Legal Authority for President Obama’s Immigration Plan

According to recent headlines, President Obama could announce a 10-point immigration plan at any moment. The plan might expand DACA for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

It could also remove the threat of deportation for undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents and give them work cards. These changes alone could affect about 5 million immigrants in the U.S.

In addition, immigrants currently in line for employment sponsored green cards could see faster approvals. Other changes intended to fix some of the broken parts of our immigration system could affect millions of immigrants as well.

Like past Presidents, Obama has broad executive discretion to implement and enforce immigration laws. The President’ s plan should be carefully crafted to stay within the boundaries of this discretion.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) recently released a report, Executive Discretion as to Immigration: Legal Overview, that describes the scope of executive power within our immigration system.

The CRS offers an overview of the three broad types of Executive discretion : (1) express delegations of discretionary authority; (2) prosecutorial discretion in enforcement ; and (3) discretion in interpreting and applying statutes. The report is worth a read if you are interested in this particular aspect of immigration law.