American Immigration Council Floats a Petition to Sway the President on Executive Amnesty

By Dan Cadman on August 26, 2014

Honest disclosure No. 1: Before I began this blog, I promised the lawyer who made me aware of the subject matter that I wouldn't make any of those typical tasteless lawyer jokes that are always making the rounds (often over some of Guinness's finest), though in retrospect I can't imagine why I'd agree to tie one hand behind my back, especially with this subject, which is (or would have been but for my promise) casting for fish in a barrel.

Honest disclosure No. 2: Lest you think that I denigrate lawyers as a class after reading my blog, I want to assure you that is not so. Some of my best friends are lawyers. Really. What is more, one of my children is a lawyer — an excellent one; I could not be more proud — and I haven't taken any steps toward disinheritance yet.

Now, onward.

The American Immigration Council (AIC) – the non-profit affiliate of the American Immigration Lawyers Association – has drafted and is apparently circulating through various academic institutions a petition for signature by law professors and scholars that it calls a "Law Professor Letter: Executive authority to protect individuals or groups from deportation". The letter is intended for presentation to President Obama to sway his thinking in favor of initiating another unilateral "executive action"; one of massive proportion designed to substitute for the broad-based amnesty he was unable to persuade the Congress to enact.

Whether or not this petition drive is successful, it's important to consider its intrinsic worth. I would suggest to you that lawyers, professors or otherwise, are no better or wiser than anyone else, even where the law is concerned. For every graduating class of 100 lawyers, 50 graduate in the bottom half of their class. At the very bottom of that ranking, some of those lawyers probably couldn't litigate their way out of a sack filled to the top with torts. While we rarely if ever know what their law school ranking was when we seek one out (it would be stupid to put class rankings on the diplomas, wouldn't it?), would we choose one from the bottom 50 given our druthers? Probably not.

And for every case that a lawyer wins, some other lawyer loses — and let's not pretend this is just because the law is so straightforward; it's not, and that's the point I'm making.

Even in the context of legal analysis and prognostication, lawyers often fall short. A classic case in point is the Supreme Court decision regarding Obamacare. Most pundits (many of them law professors — including a goodly number who wanted Obamacare to become law) predicted that the Court would find the law unconstitutional. But it didn't.

So the kinds of conclusory statements made in this petition hold little weight for me. It is of course crafted to the designs of the AIC, which wants to see an amnesty of some sort go forward, whether or not Congress has willed against it.

As I read through it, I noticed, among other things, that the petition carries this line: "Some have suggested that the size of the group who may 'benefit' from an act of prosecutorial discretion is relevant to its legality. We are unaware of any legal authority for such an assumption." What a chuckle!

  • First, a pro-amnesty organization initiates a petition drive hoping to persuade, by volume of signatures, that volume means nothing in the use of "prosecutorial discretion" to favor huge numbers of illegal aliens.

  • Second, they state that they are unaware of a legal authority in favor of size limitations governing prosecutorial discretion, for which there is no statutory authority.

Now those are exercises in legal and logical acrobatics that only an attorney could contrive or love.

Oh wait. Did I just make a joke at the expense of lawyers? Doggone! And I almost made it to the end of this blog without breaking my promise.