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Was Obama’s Move on Immigration Legal? Lawyers’ Memo Makes the Case

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

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A memo by six immigration lawyers, written more than a year ago, argues that historical precedent supported Obama’s authority to take action. Critics decry an effort to circumvent Congress.

President Obama’s decree to allow certain illegal immigrants to remain in the United States follows broad historical precedent, according to a memo prepared by proponents of the president’s move.

While conservative critics allege that Mr. Obama’s executive action Friday impinges on congressional authority, they also allow that the president does have significant leeway to make such changes.

Written by six immigration lawyers, the April 2011 report details the rationale for the maneuver according to those who had been pressuring the White House to take such a step in meetings and briefings over the past year.

“The question has been, ‘Did [the president] have the legal authority?’ ” Sen. Bob Menendez (D) of New Jersey told reporters on Friday. “Could he ultimately produce an administrative relief that could be sustainable? I and others gave him examples of those administration reliefs that other presidents, Democrats and Republicans, had, and I’m glad to see that he has come to this conclusion.”

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