President Obama could “lift the shadow of deportation” from people based on their last names, according to a House Democrat who raised the hypothetical situation while discussing the limits of presidential power regarding immigration.
“If they can do it for one person, they can do it for 100,000 people,” Representative Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.) told National Review Online last week while discussing the likelihood that Obama will use executive authority to implement some of his preferred immigration policies, in the absence of congressional legislation.
“Absolutely,” Nadler emphasized when asked if Obama had the ability to use prosecutorial discretion for entire categories of people. “If the president can decide that José Martí (to coin the name) should have deferred action, he can decide that everybody named with an M can have deferred action.”
Nadler’s comments come to mind when reading Townhall editor Conn Carroll’s piece explaining a more traditional understanding of prosecutorial discretion, which is the ostensible basis for Obama’s DACA program.
“And, in fact, prosecutorial discretion does play an integral role in our democracy. No law enforcement agency has the resources to enforce the law perfectly, nor is blind enforcement of the law always justified,” Conn writes. “Take, for example, a situation familiar to almost all Americans: speeding. In Virginia, for example, it is Class 1 misdemeanor if you are caught going more than 20 miles an hour above the posted speed limit. So, completely hypothetically, if one was to get pulled over going 76 miler-per-hour on I-66 (posted speed limit 55 miles-per-hour) that person would be facing conviction of a crime on par with drunk driving, assault, or battery.”
Nadler compared Obama’s DACA program to a district attorney’s choosing not to prosecute minor marijuana offenses, as has happened in Brooklyn.
“In order to be effective, our police officers must enforce the laws of the State of New York uniformly throughout all five boroughs of the City,” New York police commissioner Bill Bratton said in response to that plan.