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04/09/2013

Robert Delahunty and John Yoo: The Obama Administration's Nonenforcement of the Immigration Laws (and a Response)
Michael Ramsey

In the Texas Law Review (91 Texas L. Rev. 781 (2013)), Robert J. Delahunty (St. Thomas) & John C. Yoo (Berkeley): Dream On: The Obama Administration’s Nonenforcement of Immigration Laws, the DREAM Act, and the Take Care Clause.  Here is the abstract:

In this piece, Professors Delahunty and Yoo argue that the Obama Administration’s preferred tool for domestic policy is “prosecutorial discretion” not to enforce statutes with which the President disagrees. The Obama Administration has claimed “prosecutorial discretion” most aggressively in the area of immigration. The most notable example of this trend was its June 15, 2012 decision not to enforce the removal provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) against an estimated population of 800,000 to 1.76 million individuals illegally present in the United States. By taking this step, the Obama Administration effectively wrote into law “the DREAM Act,” whose passage had failed to that point.

In Part I, Professors Delahunty and Yoo describe the circumstances of the Administration’s June 15 nonenforcement decision and identify the central legal issues. In Part II, they examine the meaning and scope of the President’s duty to “take care” that the laws be faithfully executed. In Part III, they catalogue and review the most commonly offered and generally accepted excuses or justifications for the breach of the duty to execute the laws, such as unconstitutionality of the law, equity in individual cases, and resource limitations. The authors conclude that the June 15 decision does not fall within any of them.

(An earlier version of this article was noted here).

This response by Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia (Pennsylvania State University - Dickinson School of Law) is forthcoming in the Texas Law Review but not available on their site as yet).  Here is the abstract from SSRN:

This essay responds to “The Obama Administration, the DREAM Act and the Take Care Clause” by Robert J. Delahunty and John C. Yoo. Though I credit Yoo and Delahunty for considering the relationship between the DACA program and the President’s duties under the “Take Care” clause, they miss the mark in at least three ways: 1) Contrary to ignoring immigration enforcement, the Obama Administration has executed the immigration laws faithfully and forcefully; 2) Far from being a new policy that undercuts statutory law, prosecutorial discretion actions like DACA have been pursued by other presidents, and part of the immigration system for at least 35 years; 3) Despite the unsurprising fact that some people who could qualify for the congressionally-created DREAM Act possess the kinds of equities that make them attractive for a prosecutorial discretion program like DACA, it is simply inaccurate to equate the limbo status offered with a grant under DACA to the secure status that attaches to those eligible under the congressional solution known as the DREAM Act. These three points are analyzed in greater detail in this essay. While the DACA program “feels” like something more or greater in scope than previous acts of prosecutorial discretion, the authority being exercised by the agency is no greater or different. It is dangerous to argue that the potential size of the class that stands to benefit from DACA or the greater transparency somehow makes the DACA program legally unsound or different. Conceivably, a future Administration could place a cap on the number of applications that can be approved under DACA but this is a policy question, not a constitutional one.

(Via Immigration Prof Blog).