Obama can't "pardon" an illegal alien to protect them from deportation under Trump. As I've been saying for years, being here illegally is not a crime. That means you can't be punished criminally for it; it also means you can't be pardoned for it. The only way to fully protect someone from deportation under Trump is to give them a permanent legal status.

The NY Times article here, written by a law professor, is wrong. What he's missing is that being here illegally is not an "offense" in terms of the law, it's a matter of status: you belong somewhere else, so you are returned to where you belong.

When you're deported, you are not being punished, according to the law. You're simply being sent home. There's no "offense" to pardon you for. Obama can't change someone's legal status with a pardon, and therefore cannot protect from deportation with a pardon.

At most, Obama can pardon people for the offense of illegal entry, but that wouldn't make anyone legal.

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