Going It Alone: Presidential Power and the DAPA Debate

June 12, 2015

President Obama's executive action in late 2014 deferring deportation for the undocumented immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (DAPA) has been the source of much debate. Critics argue that the president does not have carte blanche to decide which laws to enforce, and if he did, the next president might decide to forego enforcement of, for example, the Clean Water Act. Supporters argue that, in addition to its positive policy outcomes, the DAPA program is a legitimate exercise of executive power, especially since enforcement prioritization has to happen all the time, given limited resources. What is the scope of presidential power with regard to enforcing statutory law? Is immigration law different than other areas? What should be the outcome of the challenge to the DAPA program pending in federal court in Texas? 


  • Hon. Vanessa Ruiz, Senior Judge, District of Columbia Court of Appeals
  • Lucas Guttentag, Senior Counselor, U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security
  • David Rivkin, Partner, BakerHostetler
  • Peter Shane, Jacob E. Davis and Jacob E. Davis II Chair in Law, Ohio State University 
  • Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar and Director of the Center for Immigration Rights, Penn State Dickinson School of Law