Obama Gives Up on Amnesty – or Does He?

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

November 23, 2016

Just a few days after Donald Trump’s victory, Justice Department lawyers and lawyers from the 26 states that brought the law suit which challenged DACA and DAPA agreed to defer further litigation on Obama’s amnesty programs to the incoming administration.

At issue is President Obama’s executive action which gave temporary legal status and work permits to illegal immigrants who entered the country as children (DACA), and a program that would confer similar benefits to their parents (DAPA).

DACAs hope for Obama’s last-minute pardon.

The official announcement reads: “Given the change in Administration, the parties jointly submit that a brief stay of any further litigation in this Court before beginning any further proceedings would serve judicial efficiency and economy so that the parties have a better understanding of how they might choose to move forward.”

Community leaders are lobbying hard for Obama to intervene. In a statement announcing a rally on DACA recipients’ behalf, they wrote: “Millions of law abiding undocumented immigrants are fearful of what will happen when the new Administration takes control in January. However, President Obama has the power of pardons that he can use to protect all DACA enrollees.”

Obama, like all presidents, has the constitutional authority to grant pardons up to and including his last seconds in office. On January 20, 2001, then-President Bill Clinton granted 140 pardons and issued several sentence commutations to convicted felons.

President-elect Trump vowed to end DACA, so immigration advocates’ last-minute plea is meant to protect illegal aliens from deportation by getting an official presidential pardon, and green cards.

What Obama may do in his final days cannot be safely predicted; he does not take defeat graciously. One ominous sign about Obama’s intensions recently came from the border where the Department of Homeland Security shut down a fully funded federal aerial surveillance program. Obama created the program in 2010 to provide National Guard resources to monitor drug smuggling operations and illegal border crossings by immigrants and human smugglers.

Upon hearing the news, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wrote on his Twitter account that “Obama is doing everything he can to open the border. January 20th can’t come soon enough.” Given his abrupt withdrawal from the border surveillance program, Obama may be sending a signal that he intends to pardon the DACAs.

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