Photographer: Paul J. Richards/Getty Images
It wasn’t heartlessness that moved President Donald Trump to lift protections for people who had been brought to the U.S. illegally when they were minors, his aides took pains to explain when he made the decision.
The president, they said, does not have the constitutional authority to give them work permits and immunize them from deportation. Congress has never passed a law granting legal status to the affected people. It’s up to Congress, a White House fact sheet said, “to responsibly address federal immigration law in an appropriate and constitutional manner.”
Trump’s aides are right about President Barack Obama. He did exceed his authority when he acted without congressional approval. Obama had himself previously said that while he thought that people who came here illegally through no fault of their own should have legal status, he did not have the power to grant it. Then he decided he wanted them to have it enough to ignore the formality of the law.