DREAM Act-lite and the Rule of Law

By: Danielle Huntley, Esq.  

The coverage of the Obama administration’s policy change towards so-called DREAMers, illegal aliens who were brought here as children, has garnered significant media coverage. Coverage here, here and here.


In my view, what has been missing from the discussion is how a change like this is emblematic of an inherent problem in our system. It continues a trend of the government creating immigration “law” through executive orders, policy memorandums and updates to various operational manuals; none of which are subject to meaningful legislative review or the regulation making process.


What are the limits of presidential power and prosecutorial discretion? On the one hand this program could be stopped at any time – it is wholly within the whim of the executive branch to maintain it. It creates no affirmative rights, only a process to ask the government to ask for its discretion. Conversely, if a DREAMer is under a final order of removal and they benefit from this program, how is that action different from a warden releasing a prisoner from prison after she has been found guilty by a court and sentenced?


This policy change is beneficial for this subset of illegal aliens, but it stands in stark contrast to the many policy changes that have created burdens where none is legislatively authorized.