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There’s been a lot of discussion about the Obama Administration’s new deportation policy. One thing that is crystal clear is that the policy is well within the President’s authority. At The New Republic, Nathan Pippenger explained this (twice):
James Ziglar, who served as Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service under George W. Bush, told me that prosecutorial discretion has been a common tool in the past. “You can’t just deport everyone,” Ziglar says. “You have to exercise practical judgment.” Doris Meissner, who served as INS commissioner throughout the Clinton administration, concurs. She issued a major prosecutorial discretion memo in 2000 at the urging of several members of Congress (including Lamar Smith, who is now Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a leading proponent of stricter immigration policy). “Prosecutorial discretion has been well established for a long time, in a variety of ways,” she says. “You should use your resources to target people who threaten public safety.”
As I noted yesterday, in exercising discretion, the administration is acting within a well-established bipartisan tradition. It is possible to disagree with the wisdom of this policy. But portraying it as an unprecedented power grab, a “backdoor amnesty” for millions of “illegals,” or a naked refusal to enforce the law is deeply ignorant at best.
“My sense is that the administration has the statutory authority to do this, because any law has to provide the executive with a certain amount of discretion,” [Krikorian] said.
That should settle it, right?