Mason Professors Discuss President’s Immigration Actions

Professor Ilya Somin, Professor David Bernstein, and Assistant Dean Richard Kelsey have commented on President Obama’s recent announcement of executive action on immigration reform in various news media.

Law Professor Says Obama Issuing Executive Order That Will Stop Deportation Of Many Undocumented Immigrants Is ‘Well Within The Law’, CBS Radio, November 21, 2014. By Rich Zeoli.


[Somin said,] “I don’t think the fact that [the President has] such broad discretion is always necessarily good, but it is perfectly legal. If the President had to enforce to the hilt every single federal law, not only would that be impossible, but it would also mean that every single President, for the last hundred years or more, has been in violation to that particular supposed duty.”

Libertarian law prof: Obama's immigration actions 'well within the scope of his authority', The Week, November 21, 2014. By Peter Weber.


Somin makes a moral case for using presidential prosecutorial discretion on immigrations "whose only violation of the law is fleeing poverty and oppression under terrible Third World governments," gives a constitutional Originalist argument for supporting Obama's orders (in part: "Under the original understanding, Congress did not have a general power to restrict immigration") . . . .

King Obama, Constitution-Shredder?, U.S. News & World Report, November 21, 2014. By Steven Nelson.


. . . Bernstein believes Obama probably has the legal authority to take the announced actions.

He points to the Department of Homeland Security’s need to prioritize resources, another key consideration addressed in the administration’s analysis, and the fact that past presidents have exercised discretion to defer deportation of smaller classes of immigrants with congressional acquiescence.

Obama offers amnesty to 5 million illegal immigrants, defies GOP, Washington Times, November 20, 2014. By Dave Boyer.


“The parts of the immigration law that allow [the President] to defer action and grant work permits to those deferred were meant to apply to emergency situations,” Mr. Bernstein said. “Here the president is openly defying Congress, which refused to pass immigration reform, in a nonemergency situation. He’s governing unilaterally outside the normal separation of powers.”

What Are the Legal Grounds to Challenge Obama’s Coming Immigration Order?, The Blaze, November 20, 2014. By Fred Lucas.


“The Chevron doctrine empowers the administrative state to enforce almost anything as it wants,” Kelsey said. “It could, in theory, give the president the legal coverage to provide de facto legal status without examination to a whole population of people for a period of time.”