Why can’t the President just give permanent residency to undocumented persons?

In this video, attorney Jacob J. Sapochnick answers one of your most frequently asked questions: Why can’t the President just give permanent residency to undocumented persons?


Only Congress may pass legislation that will create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants known as “amnesty.” The constitution of the United States limits the president’s authority to pass laws. The President may only pass executive actions to provide temporary relief when Congress is unwilling to act or there is a state of emergency. A popular belief that many people have is that the DACA program and the now defunct DAPA programs offer undocumented persons a sort of amnesty. This belief is incorrect. The current DACA program offers only temporary relief to undocumented persons living in the United States. It was designed to shield undocumented persons from deportation and provide them an opportunity to obtain temporary employment authorization.

Unfortunately, the modified DACA program and DAPA programs that were first introduced in 2014 as executive actions by President Obama, are no longer an option for the undocumented population. The Supreme Court deadlocked in United States v. Texas invalidating these programs until Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform. The original DACA program is still in effect. The now defunct modified DACA and DAPA programs were not amnesty programs, these programs provided only temporary employment authorization. Contrary to popular belief, DACA recipients are not eligible for federal public benefits such as food stamps, federal financial aid, housing benefits, etc. The issue of immigration reform will likely not be addressed by Congress until the next presidential term.

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