Executive Order Could Legalize Undocumented Immigrants: Former Judge

The talk in Washington continues to focus on the immigration debate and what Congress will and won't do to make comprehensive immigration reform a reality.

President Barack Obama has repeatedly said he would take matter into his own hands if Congress failed to act, and that time may be coming very soon.

Bruce Einhorn, Pepperdine law professor and retired US federal immigration judge, said those he knows in Washington believe Obama will make an announcement in the next week or two.

Einhorn spent 1990 to 2007 on the bench in the Los Angeles District, the busiest federal immigration docket in the country.

Tens of thousands of deportation cases -- now called "removal proceedings" -- passed his desk.

Einhorn said he's hopeful in what Obama could do in the coming days by taking executive action to legalize certain undocumented immigrants.

"I think it's necessary and appropriate," Einhorn said. "We have millions and millions of people living here who are undocumented and we neither have the resources nor the inclination as a country to create a police state and go through the various states in which these millions of people live and try to find them."

Obama has faced the immigration debate during both of his terms in the White House, criticized for not doing enough while having his hands tied by Congress to make any real change.

An executive order could provide temporary legal status for millions of people. Einhorn believes an order would put the undocumented parents of US citizens first, then parents of undocumented children who have been approved for deferred action as part of the Dream Act.

"What we need to do is at least temporarily recognize them so we know who they are so we can separate the criminals from non-criminals," he said. "And so we can provide work authorization for them so they can begin to become functioning taxpayers."

Einhorn said the unaccompanied minors at the border are a different issue,and while there are those who would like to see detainees turned immediately around, he said the cases need to be played out.

"Not all of them can stay but each child is entitled to due process," Einhorn said. "These 8-year-olds are not taking your jobs, they're not terrorist threats, we have much more dangerous people to worry about."

As for Obama taking any movement to bypass Congress, Einhorn likens it to political poker.

"I see you and raise you and now I call you," he said. "I think what the President may be saying is, it's your turn and instead of just saying no, give me a better idea. That's what the political process should be about."

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