A group of 104 Democratic Members of Congress released a letter to President Barack Obama thanking him for his decision to instruct the Department of Homeland Security to offer “Deferred Action” deportation relief to young immigrants raised in the U.S. who would qualify for the DREAM Act.
The President made his announcement on June 15, telling young undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years and arrived before they turned 16 that they will not be deported and will be given an opportunity to work legally in the U.S., at least temporarily.
The Members of Congress wrote:
We recognize that there are those who will want to take the power of discretion away from you and the Executive branch. Like you, we agree that you are on solid moral, legal, and political ground and we will do everything within our power to defend your actions and the authority that you, like past Presidents, can exercise to set enforcement priorities and better protect our neighborhoods and our nation.
In his floor speech, Rep. Gutierrez said that the group of Democrats who signed the letter were telling the President “thank you” and underscoring the fact that the President took this action to allow immigration enforcement officers to go after serious criminals. The prosecutorial discretion that the President is exercising is backed by a considerable body of case law, including the recent Supreme Court decision in Arizona v. U.S. striking down key elements of Arizona’s anti-immigrant SB1070 law. That decision reiterated the discretion the President and immigration officials have under current law to initiate and terminate deportations, the Congressman said.
Furthermore, staunch critics of the President and of immigration reform, like Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier, Chairman of the House “Immigration Reform” Caucus Brian Bilbray (R-CA), and former Judiciary Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) supported the legal grounds for prosecutorial discretion to halt the deportation of immigrants in a letter they signed to the Clinton Administration in 1999. Governor Nathan Deal, the Republican Governor of Georgia, who signed that state’s harsh, Arizona-like anti—immigrant law, also signed the 1999 letter when he was serving in the House.