Wed | Jan 23, 2019

White House preps legal case for immigration steps

Published:Friday | August 29, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Demonstrators protesting at Freedom Plaza in Washington, earlier this month, asking President Barack Obama to modify his deportations policies.
President Barack Obama


With impeachment threats and potential lawsuits looming, President Barack Obama knows whatever executive actions he takes on immigration will face intense opposition. So as a self-imposed, end-of-summer deadline to act approaches, Obama's lawyers are carefully crafting a legal rationale they believe will withstand scrutiny and survive any court challenges, administration officials say.

The argument goes something like this: Beyond failing to fix broken immigration laws, Congress hasn't even provided the government with enough resources to fully enforce the laws already on the books. With roughly 11.5 million immigrants in the US illegally, far more than the government could reasonably deport, the White House believes it has wide latitude to prioritise which of those individuals should be sent home.

But Republicans, too, are exploring their legal options for stopping Obama from what they've deemed egregious presidential overreaching.

While Obama has yet to receive the formal recommendations he's requested from Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, administration officials said the president is intimately familiar with the universe of options and won't spend much time deliberating once Johnson delivers his report.

Obama's goal had been to announce his decision around Labour Day, before leaving on a trip next week to Estonia and Wales. But a host of national security crises have pushed the announcement back, likely until after Obama returns, said the officials, who weren't authorised to comment by name and demanded anonymity.