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Why President Obama Can Implement Deferred Action For Immigrant Families

Yesterday, Celia Munoz of the Obama administration repeated a by now familiar justification for steaming along the deportation track: 

The duty of the government is to do what Congress has instructed it to do. The congress, under the current immigration laws, obligates us to deport persons who are “deportable” and gave the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), frankly, a great quantity of resources to do this work.

Munoz’s comments echoed the response of the President when he said he was not a King and that there would still “be stories that are heartbreaking with respect to deportations until we get comprehensive immigration reform.”

According to the representations of President Obama, he cannot legally put a halt to deportations that would result in the destruction of immigrant families.

Déjà vu 

On March 28, 2011, Jorge Ramos asked President Obama the following question:

With an executive order, could you be able to stop deportations of the students?

President Obama adamantly declared that he could not stop the deportations of students with an executive order for essentially the same reason that he is declaring today that he cannot put a stop the deportations of immigrants that would result in family separation. Read closely: 

With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed…The executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws. And then the judiciary has to interpret the laws.

There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President.

On June 15, 2012, President Obama announced that he would suspend the deportation of students through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which, as you can see, he previously said was impossible.

When asked about this about-face, DHS secretary Janet Napolitano awkwardly took the fall:

During Thursday’s Judiciary Committee hearing, Napolitano admitted to Virginia Republican Rep. Randy Forbes that Obama’s March 2011 statement was inaccurate. “Could he have issued an executive order to do what you did?” Forbes asked her.

“Yes,” Napolitano responded.

The Daily Caller was generous in stating that Napolitano found Obama’s statement to be inaccurate. It should really read as: “Obama’s March 2011 statement was a lie.”

Obama was a constitutional law professor. He knew what he was saying in March of 2011 was not true.

This is the same lie that is currently being spread to the public when the President laments that we will continue to see heartbreaking stories and he is just “enforcing” the laws as he is required to.

The President and his defenders will say that DACA was permissible because it allowed DHS to redirect enforcement resources to higher priority removals. They will say that a broader Deferred Action will be different from DACA because it will then run afoul of the Executive’s obligation to use the resources appropriated to it by Congress for immigration enforcement.

This defense is preposterous because there is no way to verify if it is true.

No one knows whether DHS has ever prioritized removals as they purport to have done. Under the Obama administration, DHS has refused to corroborate its deportations statistics.

Furthermore,  as far as anyone knows, DACA did nothing to cause higher priority immigrants to be removed from the United States.

President Obama could use the same justification behind DACA for a wider Deferred Action.

Prioritization. By suspending the deportations of immigrants that would result in the separation of families, DHS would be able to focus more of its limited resources on the mythical and monstrous criminal aliens.



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