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Obama's New Immigration Policy: Disappointment Is in the Details

Published: Jun 19, 2012 8:30 am By: Michael A. Olivas

"In reality, the president's adoption of a "deferred action" policy is, to a great extent, old wine in a new wineskin. The policy does not grant legal-residency status, as the Dream Act would, but only defers deportation for a renewable two-year period. Announcing the policy shows new political will, but it does not change existing law or expand available discretion. Forms of prosecutorial discretion, including deferred action, have been available for many years (originating in the John Lennon deportation case, in the early 1970s); nothing substantive has been added to existing authority.

Indeed, in the Morton Memo of June 2011, the government announced that it would focus on deporting known criminals and urged prosecutors to use their discretion in considering the cases of students who would qualify for the Dream Act. Yet data from the Department of Homeland Security show that fewer than 300 such students have been granted administrative closure to this day—a remarkably small number, given their clear qualifications for approval."

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