Prosecutorial Discretion during the Obama Administration
This chapter examines the role of prosecutorial discretion in immigration matters during the Obama administration. It analyzes several related memoranda issued by DHS during this period, including a 2010 Priorities Memo describing ICE’s civil enforcement priorities and a 2011 Prosecutorial Discretion Memo known as the “Morton Memo,” after the former head of ICE John Morton. This chapter also summarizes the events that influenced the administration to take a strong position on prosecutorial discretion and eventually to create the DACA program. These events included the 2010 failure of the DREAM Act in the Senate and a record number of deportations involving humanitarianconcerns. This chapter also considers why prosecutorial discretion was divisive among legislators, policymakers, and immigration advocates during this time. Finally, this chapter examines the relationship between the failure of congressional reforms and the role that prosecutorial discretion can play in compensating for this failure.
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