With the Obama administration in its final days, the calls from Democrats to do something to help illegal immigrants in the president’s deferred action program will probably fall on deaf ears. For starters, the timetable seems impossible and there really isn’t much the president can do. President-elect Donald J. Trump vows to start deporting criminal aliens on day one of his presidency. The Left is fearful that Trump will expand deportation to not just criminal aliens, but those who have entered the country illegally as well—which is just enforcing federal immigration laws already on the books. That’s why some Democrats have urged Obama to issue a blanket pardon for illegals that have come forward about their status, arguing that the president has used this executive authority for those convicted of non-violent drug offenses. Even if that were to happen, and it won’t, it still wouldn’t shield these immigrants from deportation. Pardons are for criminal offenses, not civil, which is where immigration violations fall under the law (via Associated Press):
Barack Obama is under pressure during his final weeks as president to do something — anything — to secure the future of hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children who could face deportation under the Trump administration. His options appear few.
Several Republican lawmakers are crafting legislative proposals to solidify the place of these immigrants, sometimes called Dreamers, before Donald Trump takes office Jan. 20. Similar efforts have repeatedly failed, even with Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress, so the likelihood of a legislative Hail Mary isn't great.
That leaves more than 741,000 immigrants wondering what's next.
When Obama announced the plan in 2012, he said he was taking executive action because Congress hadn't acted.
"This is not amnesty, this is not immunity," Obama said at the time. He called the program a "stopgap measure" that would protect young immigrants from deportation while his immigration agencies focused enforcement efforts on criminal immigrants and those who pose a threat to public safety.
The pardons being pushed by Democratic lawmakers are seen as a non-starter.
"Ultimately, it wouldn't protect a single soul from deportation, so it's not an answer here," Cecilia Munoz, Obama's top immigration adviser, told the Center for Migration Studies. "I know people are hoping for an answer, but by its very nature, the use of executive authority in this way is subject to the will of the executive" — soon to be Trump.
Cortney added that Democratic mayors are even begging Obama to do something to protect illegals before Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on January 20.