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Immigration Law

Experts Weigh In on Clinton Immigration Speech

"Seated between “Dreamers” – young people brought to the country illegally as children – for a roundtable discussion at Rancho high school in Las Vegas, Hillary Clinton issued the clarion call immigration activists had been waiting for this week.

“I will fight for comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship for you and your family across our country,” Clinton promised. “I will fight to stop partisan attacks on the executive action that would put Dreamers, including those with us today, at risk of deportation. And if Congress continues to refuse to act, I would do everything possible under the law to go even further.” ...

Immigration experts said Obama has by no means exhausted the limits of presidential authority on immigration, and that the next US president has plenty of room to act in big or small ways, should Congress continue to prove obstinate.

“It really depends on how ambitious she wants to be and how many people she wants to benefit from her actions,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration law at Cornell Law School.

Yale-Loehr said there are plenty of small, mostly uncontroversial, actions a future president could take to offer temporary relief for small groups of people such as Obama did for the undocumented family members of military men and women.

In contrast, she could also “go big”, he said, by reinterpreting the visa limit. Currently, the number of people admitted includes the principal applicant plus the person’s spouse and children. Yale-Loehr said the law could be interpreted to only count the principal applicant, thereby allowing possibly as much as three times the number of immigrants to receive work and family-based visas to the US.

“Theoretically any administration could make that change,” he said. “But it would be very controversial and would almost certainly bring about litigation.”" - Lauren Gambino, The Guardian, May 7, 2015.

- Stephen Yale-Loehr