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The Law

Libertarian law prof: Obama's immigration actions 'well within the scope of his authority'

Republican pundits and politicians have been accusing President Obama of "shredding the Constitution" and seizing imperial powers by unilaterally shielding up to five million illegal immigrants from deportation. But George Mason law professor Ilya Somin, a self-described small-government conservative libertarian, disagrees.

"In reality, all modern presidents inevitably make policy choices about which violations of federal law to prosecute," he writes at The Washington Post's Volokh Conspiracy blog. "Obama's decision to defer deportation is in line with those of past presidents, and well within the scope of his authority."

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"), and cites this example of how presidents pick and choose whom to prosecute:

For decades federal law enforcement officials have almost never prosecuted the possession and use of marijuana on college campuses, even though such possession [is] clearly forbidden by the Controlled Substances Act. By doing so, they have let many millions of federal criminals of the hook, including the last three presidents of the United States — far more than are exempted from deportation by Obama's policy. [Washington Post]

Agree with Somin or not, it's an interesting analysis. Read the whole article at The Washington Post.