Georgia congressman, law professors join debate over immigration

A Republican congressman and three law professors from Georgia have joined the fray over revamping the nation’s immigration system.

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins of Gainesville last week united with several other Republican congressmen in pressing President Barack Obama for details about what he will do concerning the hot button issue.

Obama has pledged to act independently now that immigration overhaul legislation is stalled in Congress. He is expected to announce — after the Nov. 4 congressional elections — protections for immigrants living without legal status in the U.S.

One possibility is an expansion of an Obama administration program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. That program grants deportation deferrals and work permits to immigrants who were brought here as children, who graduated from high school here and who have not been convicted of any felonies.

Supporters say that program is a humane way to treat young immigrants who did not choose to come here and who would struggle if they were deported to their native countries. Republican lawmakers say the program is an illegal end run around Congress.

“Regarding actions you are planning that you believe would comply with the Constitution, the least the administration can do is give Americans the opportunity to see the recommendations that you are considering before you take any actions,” says the letter from Collins and fellow Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee.

“Rather than attempt to hide these actions from the American people until after the midterm elections, Americans should be given the chance to come to their own conclusions as to the merits of these recommendations. They can then exercise their constitutional right to petition the federal government and let you know their opinions.”

A White House spokeswoman said the Obama administration would review the letter and respond.

Also this month, three Georgians were among 136 law professors who signed a separate letter to Obama this month, making the case that he has the power to shield certain immigrants from deportation. They cited U.S. Supreme Court case law and actions taken by Congress and Republican presidential administrations. Among those who signed the letter are Jason Cade of the University of Georgia, Charles Kuck of Emory University, and Joseph Rosen of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School.

“We believe the administration has the legal authority to use prosecutorial discretion as a tool for managing resources and protecting individuals residing in and contributing to the United States in meaningful ways,” their letter says.

The Georgia law professor sent some additional thoughts by email Tuesday. Here is some of what they said:

Cade: “In short, the smart use of enforcement discretion in immigration law allows the government to use its limited resources to focus on the worst or most dangerous offenders, and, in appropriate cases (or categories), avoid the economic and human costs that can result from seeking removal indiscriminately.”

Kuck: “The President has been given broad discretion by Congress on Immigration law. He should use his executive authority and revise immigration rules and regulations to broadly correct some of the most unjust issues of our legal immigration system — issues which contribute mightily to undocumented immigration and which stunt our economic growth.”

Rosen: “This is the opportunity for the president through executive action, and (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) attorneys through prosecutorial discretion, to do the right thing. It is time for America to show the compassion and justice that are the foundations of this country.”

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