With the Trump presidency drawing nearer, Democrats are frantically looking for ways to prevent President-elect Trump from deporting illegal immigrants. About 60 Congressional Democrats are urging President Obama to issue a blanket pardon to 750,000 young illegal immigrants who are in the president’s deferred action program. Trump has vowed to deport criminal aliens the day he takes office, which has some Democrats, like Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), pushing Obama to pardon these individuals, arguing that the president has done the same for those convicted non-violent drug offenses. The problem is that the Obama White House has said this wouldn’t grant them legal status. Law experts also noted that while it’s true that a mass pardon wouldn’t grant them legal status, it could open the way for them to apply for such a designation. At the same time, like with TPP and closing Gitmo, this isn’t going to happen (via Liz Goodwin/Yahoo! News):
The White House has informed the Democrats that “the clemency power could not give legal status to any undocumented individual” and that only Congress has that power. Cecilia Muñoz, the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said in a podcast last week that a mass pardon would not “protect a single soul from deportation.”
But the Democrats say in a new letter to Obama that he still has the responsibility and authority to issue a “narrow reprieve” for all civil immigration violations the young people may have committed. That would not create legal status, they argue, but could make them eligible to apply for it.
Jeffrey Crouch, a law professor at American University, said that even if this mass grant of pardon for a civil offense was possible, it’s unlikely that Obama would want to open up this “can of worms” so close to the end of his presidency. It would also be a departure from his unprecedented work commuting the sentences of more than 1,000 federal prisoners serving decades-long sentences for non-violent drug crimes.
“Granting clemency for a civil offense would be a real departure from how clemency is generally used,” Crouch told Yahoo News. Presidents have issued mass pardons in the past, such as Jimmy Carter’s blanket clemency for draft dodgers, but those related to criminal — not civil — offenses.
Polling from the past few days have shown that large majorities of voters feel that despite Trump’s claims of deporting millions of people and building a wall, they don’t expect that to happen during his presidency. The latter will probably not be a wall like those which defended Rome and Athens, but an increase in criminal deportations seems likely, though based on Trump’s dealings with Carrier and SoftBank, it seems the president-elect is, as he said he would, laser focused on reviving our economy. At the same time, deporting criminal immigrants who have committed felonies, besides breaking federal immigration law to come here illegally, isn’t controversial.