750,000 PARDONS: MAYBE NOT
“President-elect Donald Trump repeatedly said he would end President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Because of the likely termination of DACA under the Trump administration, advocacy groups have been asking for President Obama to pardon the 750,000 DACA applicants in hopes of creating for them a ‘pathway to citizenship.’ What these advocates don’t realize is that the presidential pardon can only be used for criminal acts, not civil offenses, like illegal entry into the U.S.,” notes the Federation for American Immigration Reform in a new policy update.
“Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of the Constitution clearly states that the President shall ‘have the Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States.’ This means President Obama could only pardon federal criminal offenses, but not civil violations. Crossing the border illegally is a misdemeanor crime and unlawful presence in the United States is a civil violation, meaning a presidential pardon would erase the crime of crossing the border illegally, but would have no impact on the civil offense of unlawfully residing in the U.S.,” the nonprofit group continues.
“Even if he could pardon the illegal act of entering the country without inspection, the DACA recipients would still lack legal status to remain in the U.S. This fact was recently acknowledged by an administration spokesperson, acknowledging the pardon authority ‘doesn’t confer legal status’ to its recipients. Only Congress can do that.”