In March 2011, speaking at Univision town hall in Washington, D.C., Barack Obama firmly stated that, as president, he can't simply "suspend deportations" with only an executive order. "With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed," President Obama said then.
His statement then was in response to this straight forward question, "What if at least you grant temporary protective status, TPS, to undocumented students? If the answer is yes, when? And if no, why not?"
Today, the Obama administration seems to be contradicting what the president once believed. With the announcement that young illegal immigrants who "do not present a risk to national security or public safety" will not be deported, Obama seems to have turned a corner. Now the Obama administration will be using prosecutorial discretion not to go after these people.
So, what has happened since then? Has the president "evolved" on immigration the way he did on gay marriage?
There has not been any change to the laws on the books that would offer a different legal course regarding immigration. Instead, it appears to be a reinterpretation of the law--and of executive power--on the part of President Obama.
It's amazing what an election year can do to one's own interpretation of laws on the books!