In reality, the president does not possess this authority, as unauthorized presence in the U.S. is a civil violation, not a criminal one. Presidential pardon power only applies to federal crimes, described as “offenses against the United States” in the Constitution. As such, “a pardon can’t make someone a citizen or lawful resident,” explains John Harrison, a law professor at the University of Virginia. “Deportation is not a criminal proceeding, it’s a civil process that removes from the country someone who is not entitled to be here.”

By Suzy Khimm -- Washington Post

Illegal Immigration

Updated: Wed, Dec 7th 2011 @ 1:52pm EST