Durbin defends legality of Obama deportation policy

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Durbin's comments are in response to Republican criticism of Obama's decision, which the president announced Friday. Critics argue that Obama's decision illegally circumvents Congress and ignoring his constitutional obligations to uphold immigration laws.

"Lets be clear, what the Obama administration has done in establishing this new process for prioritizing deportations is perfectly appropriate and legal," Durbin said, the author of Democrat-backed immigration reform legislation, said Monday. "Throughout our history, the government has decided who to prosecute, who not to prosecute based on law enforcement priorities and resources. The Supreme Court has held 'an agency's  decision not to prosecute is the decision generally committed to an agency's absolute discretion.' President Obama granted deferred action, to use the technical term, to DREAM Act students. Past administrations, Democrat and Republican, have used deferred action to stop deportations of low priority cases."

Earlier in the day Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) also defended Obama's announcement saying it had to be done because Congress refused to tackle immigration reform.

Under the new deportation policy, young immigrants who are living in the country illegally would be issued work permits provided they came to the U.S. before they were 16, have lived in the country for five consecutive years, and are pursuing or received a high school diploma or GED or are currently serving in the armed forces. The immigrants must also must not have been convicted of a felony and be under the age of 30 currently.

Critics were also wrong, Durbin said, to say that Obama's announcement was essentially amnesty.

"Now some of my colleagues on the other side have claimed that this is a backdoor amnesty, that isn't even true," Durbin continued. "This is simply a decision to focus limited government resources on serious criminals and other public safety threats."

Durbin also praised Obama's decision.

"The president's action is not just legal, it's also a realistic approach to enforcing our immigration laws," Durbin added.