Wednesday, September 10, 2014

136 Leading Experts on Immigration Law Agree:
President Has Legal Authority to Expand Relief to Immigrants
For Immediate Release

September 3, 2014 from the American Immigration Council

Washington D.C. —U.S. law professors sent a letter today to the White House stating that President Obama has wide legal authority to make needed changes to immigration enforcement policy. The president is considering how to use his authority to mitigate the damage caused by our dysfunctional immigration system and protect certain individuals from deportation.

The letter was written by Stephen H. Legomsky, John S. Lehmann University Professor at Washington University School of Law and former U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Chief Counsel; Hiroshi Motomura, Susan Westerberg Prager Professor at UCLA School of Law; and Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar at Penn State Law. It was signed by professors from 32 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

“As part of the administration’s legal team that ironed out the details of DACA, I can personally attest that we took pains to make sure the program meticulously satisfied every conceivable legal requirement,” said Legomsky. “In this letter, 136 law professors who specialize in immigration reach the same conclusion and explain why similar programs would be equally lawful.” (DACA is the acronym for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the program the president initiated in June 2012.)

In their letter, the law professors point out that “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.” The letter goes on to explain that presidents from both parties have used prosecutorial discretion to prevent specific, and often large, groups of immigrants from being deported.

“Our letter confirms that the administration has specific legal authority to use prosecutorial discretion as a tool for protecting an individual or group from deportation,” said Wadhia. “This legal authority served as foundation for prosecutorial discretion policy across several administrations. Historically, this policy has been premised on the twin policy goals of managing limited resources and shielding people with compelling situations from removal.” 

This is the second major letter about prosecutorial discretion that law professors have sent to President Obama. The first letter, sent in 2012, outlined the legal argument for expanded administrative relief, which later became the blueprint for the president’s DACA program. That program allows qualifying noncitizens who came to the United States as children to apply for relief from deportation and work authorization.

“This letter reflects a clear, broad, and informed consensus on two key points,” said Motomura. “First, the president has the legal authority, exercising his discretion as the nation’s top immigration prosecutor, to establish enforcement priorities. Second, the president’s lawful discretion includes the authority to set up an orderly system, modeled on DACA, for granting temporary relief from deportation.”

A copy of the letter is available at

The National Immigration Law Center and the American Immigration Council  helped to distribute the White House letter. Recently, the American Immigration Council also released a report by Professor Motomura, “The President’s Discretion, Immigration Enforcement, and the Rule of Law,” which provides further legal and historical background on this issue.

To learn more about how President Obama can restore order to our dysfunctional immigration system, visit NILC’s Administrative Relief & Prosecutorial Discretion webpage.
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For more information, contact Wendy Feliz at or 202-507-7524

The American Immigration Council Launches Its Annual Multimedia Contest for 14-25 Year Olds, With $1,000 First Prize.

The American Immigration Council is seeking submission for its national multimedia competition. The contest, "Change in Motion," challenges young adults to explore the role immigration plays in their everyday lives and communities through creative multimedia projects. Projects should focus on celebrating the diversity of the United States and explore the commonalities that bind our “nation of immigrants” together. Please share these guidelines with those who are interested.

Who is eligible?

Young adults between the ages of 14-25 are eligible. Individual or group entries are permitted; however, there is a single cash prize for first, second and third places.

What do we mean by “multimedia?”

Acceptable entries are videos, photo essays or slideshows. Presentations (video or photographic) should focus on the benefits of immigration.

How technical does my project need to be?

Your story and the way you tell it matter more than how sophisticated your technical abilities are. We encourage you to tell your story and not let a lack of technological expertise prevent you from doing so.

Is there a time limit?

Entries should be no more than five minutes long.

How do we enter the contest?

There are two ways to submit entries.

1) Submit a copy of the multimedia file on a CD or DVD to the American Immigration Council “Change in Motion” Multimedia Contest , 1331 G Street N.W. Suite 200, Washington, DC  20005, OR

2) You can also use YouTube to submit your video entry via your own YouTube account. Simply email with the submission date and a link to the submission on your YouTube account, make sure to put 2015 MULTIMEDIA Contest in the subject line. We will add the content on the American Immigration Council’s page on YouTube.

When submitting your videos and pictures, please tag the content with the following tags: “American Immigration Council’s “Change in Motion” Multimedia contest 2015. Please remember to tag your videos, so we are able to find your content.

How will the contest be judged?

The winners will be chosen by the American Immigration Council and a panel of judges.

What criteria will be used to select the winner?

The multimedia entries will be judged on the basis of creativity, story-telling ability and personal impact. The judging panel will also look for the most creative and original entries with the most engaging use of media.

What is the prize?

There will be first ($1,000), second ($500) and third place ($250) winners.

What is the deadline?

The deadline is 11:59 EST, January 15, 2015. Winners will be notified on or around March 2, 2015.

For more information, including the rules and terms of the contest, please visit the Multimedia Contest webpage.

Watch the previous award-winning video “Two World’s, One Heart” by Shireen Alihaji.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

The President’s Discretion, Immigration Enforcement, and the Rule of Law

For Immediate Release
August 26, 2014

Washington D.C. - Today, the American Immigration Council releases The President’s Discretion, Immigration Enforcement, and the Rule of Law by Hiroshi Motomura, a Professor of Law at UCLA.

Professor Motomura’s paper discusses the President’s broad legal authority to make a significant number of unauthorized migrants eligible for temporary relief from deportation. He makes clear that the President has broad prosecutorial discretion as to setting enforcement priorities, given our current enforcement system in which all 11 million unauthorized immigrants could not practically be deported. Moreover, Motomura shows that providing a system for applying prosecutorial discretion—with formal criteria and a process—is more consistent with the rule of law. Doing so makes discretionary enforcement decisions more uniform and predictable, and forestalls individual agent’s actions based on discrimination or race. The paper rebuts critics that have accused President Obama of overstepping his authority as he considers measures to defer the deportation of millions of families.

To read the paper in its entirety, see:
The President’s Discretion, Immigration Enforcement, and the Rule of Law (August 26, 2014)
For press inquiries, contact Wendy Feliz at or 202-507-7524