“The president takes the executive clemency power seriously.”
Even President Obama recognizes some Constitutional boundaries. Who knew?
Thursday, House Democrats petitioned President Obama, requesting a pardon for DREAMers (kids who would benefit under the contentious DREAM Act). The pardon would nullify any legal ramifications accrued because of their lack of legal status. DREAMers would’ve been brought to the U.S. as children. Their parents or legal guardians entered without inspection and settled without legal status, leaving their children without any legal presence. DREAM proponents often argue its not the fault of the child their parents brought them to the country illegally.
The Hill reports:
Democratic Reps. Zoe Lofgren and Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, and Luis Gutierrez of Illinois said it is Obama’s “responsibility” to protect participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program from potential immigration enforcement measures taken by a Trump administration.
“We want the immigrant community to know that we are not giving up, we are going to fight for them, we are going to stand by them, we are on their side,” Lofgren said at the press conference.
In a letter to Obama, the proponents argued that the president’s power to grant pardons extends to civil immigration violations such as illegal entry, overstaying a visa and illegal presence.
“We urge you to exercise your Constitutional authority to provide pardons to DREAMers both retroactively and prospectively,” read the letter.
DACA granted a two-year work renewable work permit to its recipients — often called “Dreamers” in reference to the DREAM Act — in addition to deferring any deportation actions related strictly to immigration violations.
The White House responded, recognizing the power constraints of the Executive Branch:
“The president takes the executive clemency power seriously. As a general matter, we do not comment on the likelihood of whether a specific pardon may be granted, should one be requested,” a White House official said. “We note that the clemency power could not give legal status to any undocumented individual. As we have repeatedly said for years, only Congress can create legal status for undocumented individuals.”
President Obama’s refusal to pardon DREAMers is a bit surprising given his amnesty via Executive Order past. But a welcome surprise nonetheless.
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