Thursday September 21st, 2017 8:04AM

House OKs bill to block Obama deportation relief; President mulls next step

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Republicans have passed legislation to shut down a program by President Barack Obama granting deportation relief to immigrants brought here illegally as kids.<br /> <br /> The legislation that passed 216-192 late Friday could put more than 700,000 immigrants who've received temporary work permits in line for deportation. It also would block Obama from awarding work permits to other immigrants who are here illegally. <br /> <br /> Among members of the Georgia House delegation, the vote was along party lines except for Rep. Paul Broun, a Republican who represents the 10th District, who broke ranks with other GOP members of the delegation and voted against the bill. <br /> (See link below for roll call of the votes.) <br /> <br /> The bill was supported by conservatives who demanded it as their price for backing a separate measure dealing with the crisis of unaccompanied minors flooding the border.<br /> <br /> The Senate has already adjourned for Congress' summer recess so neither bill stands a chance of becoming law.<br /> <br /> OBAMA HAS ROOM TO MANEUVER<br /> <br /> What can President Barack Obama actually do without Congress to change U.S. immigration policies? A lot, it turns out.<br /> <br /> There are some limits under federal law, and anything the White House ultimately decides to do may be challenged in court as unconstitutional. But leading legal experts say the White House almost certainly could delay indefinitely efforts to deport millions of immigrants already in the U.S. illegally, and it could give them official work permits that would allow them to legally find jobs, obtain driver's licenses and pay income taxes.<br /> <br /> Here is what Obama could not do without approval from Congress: He couldn't generally give large groups of immigrants permission to remain permanently in the United States, and he couldn't grant them American citizenship. And he couldn't generally make them eligible for federal or state social benefit programs, such as welfare payments, food stamps or the administration's health care plans.<br /> <br /> "There is prosecutorial discretion which can be exercised in these sorts of situations," said Leon Rodriguez, a former Justice Department lawyer and the newly confirmed director for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. "In most enforcement realms, generally there is pretty broad discretion." Rodriguez spoke earlier this week on Capitol Hill during an oversight hearing for the House Judiciary Committee.<br /> <br /> With Congress declining to approve significant changes to immigration laws, the White House is hinting that Obama is considering broadening a program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to temporarily shield from deportation many young immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and allow them to get a work permit. Immigration reform advocates have been pushing to include parents of U.S. citizens and the parents of young immigrants already protected under the earlier program, which covers more than 700,000 immigrants so far.<br /> <br /> All told, expanding the program could affect as many as 5 million immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally.
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