In his November 20th primetime speech announcing a unilateral mass amnesty for illegal immigrants, President Obama assured everyone that the new program — known officially as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA — was nothing more than a deportation freeze: “It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive — only Congress can do that. All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you.”

This was simply dishonest. DAPA makes illegal immigrants eligible for work permits, Social Security numbers, and — as IRS chief John Koskinen has confirmed — Earned Income Tax Credit payments. Such benefits fall well outside the realm of “prosecutorial discretion.”

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen made this point quite strongly in his February 16th ruling, which has temporarily blocked implementation of DAPA. Here’s a key passage:

“Instead of merely refusing to enforce the INA’s removal laws against an individual, the DHS has enacted a wide-reaching program that awards legal presence, to individuals Congress has deemed deportable or removable, as well as the ability to obtain Social Security numbers, work authorization permits, and the ability to travel. Absent DAPA, these individuals would not receive these benefits. . . .

“Exercising prosecutorial discretion and/or refusing to enforce a statute does not also entail bestowing benefits. Non-enforcement is just that — not enforcing the law. Non-enforcement does not entail refusing to remove these individuals as required by the law and then providing three years of immunity from that law, legal presence status, plus any benefits that may accompany legal presence under current regulations. This Court seriously doubts that the Supreme Court, in holding non-enforcement decisions to be presumptively unreviewable, anticipated that such ‘non-enforcement’ decisions would include the affirmative act of bestowing multiple, otherwise unobtainable benefits upon an individual.”

Judge Hanen’s entire ruling can be found here.