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President Obama limited without Congress on immigration reform, says Price

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Corey Broman-Fulks

With immigration reforms seemingly dead in Congress and the recent influx of children over the border, President Obama says he is going to bypass Congress and make reforms through executive order. Emory University law professor Polly Price, an expert in immigration law, says there isn’t a lot he can do.

“President Obama is fairly limited in terms of executive orders that would make a substantial difference, primarily because the pathway to legal immigration is strictly limited by statute,” she says.

The president can defer deportations under Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which was designed for undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children and are pursuing education or military service. Price says President Obama can expand DACA to include the recent influx of children. He can also admit the children as refugees, a designation that is a unilateral power of the presidency. However, this won’t fix the country’s real immigration issues.

"The problem is driven by many years that Congress has failed to enact immigration reform,” Price explains. “All sides have agreed that the current system is broken. The complexity of the legal visa process makes it difficult to immigrate legally even for those entitled to do so, and a wait of many years to reunify families.”

Immigration, citizenship and American legal history

Polly Price
Professor of Law

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