Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly


Olga Y. Kuchins


Currently, more than eleven million undocumented immigrants live and work in the United States unlawfully. The Administration's effort to bring undocumented immigrants out of the "shadows" under the deferred action programs, while constitutional, is merely a Band-Aid-a temporary solution to Congress' unsuccessful efforts to pass legislation that addresses the issue of undocumented immigrants head on. This Note contextualizes the Obama Administration's deferred action programs within the larger framework of prosecutorial discretion in immigration law.

Section I lays the foundation for the Administration's decision to implement Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") by discussing some of the major developments in United States' immigration law and policy, preceding the executive action. Section II details the general framework of DACA and the 2014 DACA expansion, including the 2014 Deferred Action to Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents ("DAPA") program. Section III explores the debate over the current state of the Administration's executive action programs. Section IV demonstrates the constitutionality of executive prosecutorial discretion in immigration law, and provides examples of deferred action programs instituted by former Administrations. This Note concludes with a discussion about DACA's limitations in the narrow context of law licenses and advocates for comprehensive immigration reform.