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Can The President Really Make 11 Million Legal?


U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has a new way to energize conservatives about immigration reform.

Essentially, Rubio says, if conservatives don't join a move to improve the immigration situation, President Barack Obama will do it on his own.

On an Tallahassee radio talk show hosted by Preston Scott, Rubio said, "I’ve been saying now I believe that this president will be tempted, if nothing happens in Congress, he will be tempted to issue an executive order like he did for the DREAM Act kids a year ago, where he basically legalizes 11 million people by the sign of a pen."

ButPolitiFact's Katie Sanders said they've ruled that statement mostly false.

"Rubio is talking about an extreme situation, a hypothetical situation, that Obama has -- by the way -- denied he plans to do," Sanders explained. "We thought the situation was faintly possible but highly unlikely -- both legally and politically."

For PolitiFact, the problem is Rubio's use of the words "basically legalize."

"Obama cannot grant permanent residency or citizenship to the entire swath of undocumented immigrants. He just can't. It's not within his power," Sanders said.

Rubio did, rightly, point out that President Obama used an executive order to allow the Dream Act kids to apply for a temporary stay so they can live or work without fear of deportation.

But experts contacted by PolitiFact said that is not a likely move, even though the President does have pretty broad powers over deportations.

"It's just not legally feasible for him to stop deportations for that long because he has an obligation to do it," Sanders explained. "He could build, bit by bit, on that deferred action policy for Dream Act kids by including smaller sets of the population such as, let's just say, the parents of Dream Act kids... push them farther down the line. But, again, that's not legalizing them."

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