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President Barack Obama announces executive actions on immigration during a nationally televised address from the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014.  Jim Bourg—AP

Legal Scholars: Obama's Immigration Actions Lawful

Nov 20, 2014

President Barack Obama's announced immigration executive actions are lawful, a group of ten prominent legal scholars wrote in a joint letter shared by the White House with TIME.

Pushing back on Republicans who have blasted Obama's action as unconstitutional and unlawful, the signatories include Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe, conservative legal scholar Eric Posner, and former Yale Law School Dean and former State Department Legal Advisor Harold Hongju Koh.

"While we differ among ourselves on many issues relating to Presidential power and immigration policy, we are all of the view that these actions are lawful," the professors wrote. "They are exercises of prosecutorial discretion that are consistent with governing law and with the policies that Congress has expressed in the statutes that it has enacted."

The letter reinforces a Justice Department opinion that the president's actions were lawful. The same memorandum noted that the Office of Legal Counsel believed that extending prosecutorial discretion to prevent deportations of the parents of those granted deferred action in 2012 would not be lawful, providing Obama cover from criticism from advocates who wanted the president to do more.

The full letter is below:

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