Representative Luis Gutierrez, a champion of immigration reform, believes that President Barack Obama is going to make use of his executive powers to push the legislation through, while John Boehner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, believes that if he does it will kill the little support Obama has on the topic with Republicans; immigration law experts say they are both right.
After pushback from members of his own party as well as immigration reform activists, the President has ordered a re-examination of his administration’s policy on deportation, potentially making minor offenders and those who have broken no other laws a low priority to deport. Cornell University Law School professor Stephen Yale-Loehr says that Obama has a tough choice to make. “The courts have upheld wide discretion on immigration matters,” he points out. “He could make non-criminals the lowest deportation priorities… But there is a penalty he could pay through using executive action rather than waiting for Congress to act on immigration reform.”
That price, as Boehner made clear in an interview with Fox News last week, would be to make it impossible for immigration reform to ever be dealt with by a Congress that does not trust the President.
However, experts say there are a few things Obama could get away with doing right now, such as banning the kind of racial profiling that occurs on the border and in national security matters, which would itself cut down the number of immigrants placed in custody and then deported.