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Trump likely has authority to extend DACA deadline, experts say

John T. Bennett, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

Kelly went to Capitol Hill on Tuesday and reiterated his assessment that he is "not so sure this president has the authority to extend it," according to The Washington Post. He reportedly noted Obama created the program via executive order, meaning it is not an actual law.

The chief of staff's assessment, however, is flawed: Presidents lack the authority to just change laws passed by Congress. They can adjust implementation -- but not unilaterally order programs etched in law be terminated.

Hours later on Tuesday, Sanders took another stance when asked about a presidential extension: "He certainly has the right to do so."

On Wednesday, White House aides were unable to provide a clear answer on whether the president has the requisite legal authorities. They also struggled to say definitely if White House officials asked the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel or a similar legal shop within the government to weigh in. (The Justice Department's public affairs office did not return requests for comment on the matter.)

The best one White House official could do was try to clarify Kelly's Tuesday remark, but even that clarification appeared at odds with the retired Marine's stance: "I think what Gen. Kelly was referring to was the president's determination that the DACA program was not legal."

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