Over the last several weeks, the focus has shifted from immigration reform to the humanitarian crisis that is occurring at the U.S.-Mexico border. Without comprehensive immigration reform, there are a lot of questions surrounding the current situation at the southern border. It has been reported that there have been in excess of 57,000 unaccompanied children attempting to cross into the United States without documentation. So, what can the Obama Administration do about it?
On August 1, the president held a news conference where he addressed some of these pressing issues. He told the audience that his administration has been successful in curbing the number of undocumented, unaccompanied children attempting to cross into the United States. However, he also admitted that without additional funding, the problem cannot be completely solved. Additionally, it will be even harder to resolve now that Congress is on its recess for the month of August. “That means while they're out on vacation, I'm going to have to make some tough choices to meet the challenge, with or without Congress,” Obama said.
The Washington Wire posted a piece that considers some questions related to how President Obama can use his executive authority while Congress is on recess. I want to discuss some of the questions the article poses, along with answers offered by the author. You can read the piece in its entirety here.
First Question: What kind of action is the president most likely to do in this situation?Answer: First, he will most likely expand DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). It is expected that Obama will set updated “guidelines to designate more undocumented immigrants as low priorities for deportation.” One revision may be that immigrants who are arrested for “minor offenses” will still be “considered a low priority for deportation.”
Second Question: How is the president permitted to make changes like these without approval from Congress?Answer: The president is able to use prosecutorial discretion. This means that he can “decide when to make arrests and how to proceed in pressing charges.” In this case, DHS (Department of Homeland Security) can choose not to put immigrants in deportation proceedings. It can also choose to delay proceedings that have already begun or drop the proceedings entirely.
Third Question: Is Congress able to stop the president's executive actions?Answer: It has been reported that House Republicans will want to file a lawsuit against the president that would stop his executive acts. However, those considered experts in this field don't think that the lawsuit will work out in the GOP's favor. Alternatively, Congress could attempt to “stipulate that no funds can be spent on the specific executive actions the Obama administration has issued.” However, at this point there has been no such legislation offered.
If you have questions related to your immigration status or other legal matter, give my office a call. Immigration laws can be detailed and confusing. You do not have to deal with this on your own! Do not hesitate to contact my office and we can schedule an initial consultation.