Obama Could Grant a Christmas Wish for 200K
Fearing deportation under Trump, immigrants hope for his pardon
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2016 8:46 AM CST
A girl sleeps at a rally sponsored by local immigrant rights organizations in Homestead, Fla., in 2014.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – As a teenager, 31-year-old Liz was convicted of fraud after attempting to return an item to a store for her uncle (she was unaware he hadn't bought it there). Years later, she was convicted again after agreeing to pick up a package for a friend, which she later learned contained drugs. She's one of hundreds of thousands of legal permanent residents with one or two misdemeanor convictions whom Donald Trump has promised to deport, reports the New York Times. But she has one final hope. More than 100 advocacy groups are urging President Obama to pardon the civil immigration violations of up to 200,000 green card holders now eligible for deportation under federal immigration law before he leaves office.

Obama's pardon can't be applied to the individuals' crimes, which violated state rather than federal law. But according to the Constitution, it could be applied to any "offenses" against the US, which include civil immigration violations, advocates say. This has never been done before but would give Obama, the so-called "deporter in chief"—who oversaw the deportation of more than 2.5 million immigrants, per the AP—an opportunity to reshape his legacy, advocates say. "These are people he said it makes no sense to rip out of their American families," a law professor tells the Guardian, after making the case for such a pardon in a New York Times op-ed in July. "It's really a moment where we are going to see whether he lives up to the commitment to those communities." And while Liz says that "mistakes in life have to be looked at case by case," she says of Obama: "I think God has given me the strength to accept whatever decision he makes."

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