Florida A & M University Law Review


Todd Curtin


On November 20, 2014, the White House released a press statement notifying viewers that President Obama would do everything within his executive powers to solve the problems surrounding the immigration system. The White House made it clear that the President would be acting with legal authority in taking these steps. This paper addresses whether or not the Obama Administration did, in fact, act with legal authority by initiating the following steps using his executive authority: “cracking down on illegal immigration at the border; deporting felons, not families; and accountability through criminal background checks and taxes.” President Obama, acting through Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, had two primary objectives in issuing executive actions on immigration. The first was to expand the already-enacted policy under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The second was to create a new program for a new class of citizens, called the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program.

Due to the communications by the President and the actions of Secretary Johnson, the issue of existing legal authority to expand DACA and create DAPA still remains. To answer this question, this paper analyzes the expansion of DACA, creation of DAPA, the courts’ responses to these measures, and the constitutional framework of executive action. In the end, applying the framework to President Obama’s actions will show that the President did not act within his legal authority, and thereby violated the United States Constitution.