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4 Simple Tips to Get an A* in Your Law A-Level

how to write a law essay a level

A-level law is certainly a very interesting subject to study since it enables you to widen your knowledge on various roles the legal sector has to offer, as well as how laws are made in the English legal system – including specifics of many cases.  It is a subject that encourages you to approach a new style of thinking by applying your legal knowledge to problem questions or scenarios to explain the likely outcome of a case.

However, it ’s no surprise that it can surely seem daunting at times, so here are four simple tips to ace your exams!

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  Tip #1: Finish (and Learn) Your Notes Early On

The general rule is little and often so if you can help it, definitely do not make the mistake of leaving all your challenging material to learn towards the very end of your second year – there’s nothing worse than missing the grades you want while knowing you could have helped it!

Make sure you understand all of the content and the cases that you learn at the end of each lesson or at the very least, at the end of each unit. Try to make your revision notes as you go throughout the year, with the aim of having less note-making and more time for revision towards exam season – which leads onto my point about effective revision.

Revision is most effective when you are revisiting your material over a longer period of time in an area with no surrounding distractions. In terms of law, it is no surprise that the A-level requires a large amount information to be remembered accurately.

Therefore, you should find the learning style that suits you best – whether that is make both detailed and summarised posters for each section or unit you study or using flash cards to remember key cases.

Tip #2: Be Proactive and Organised

To succeed in your law A-level, you need to be proactive in the lesson – if you don’t fully understand a particular aspect, ask the teacher to help you straight away. Never leave a lesson thinking ‘what was that about’ or ‘I’ll learn this later’ – get to the bottom of your questions in the lesson. By doing this, you are reducing both your workload and stress when it comes to the exam period.

Additionally, with a demanding essay-based subject such as law, organising your time to do past papers is a must. Unlike many other subjects, you can essentially guess the possible questions that will come up on your exam as they are very similar every year.

So master the past papers under timed conditions and you will be well prepared. Always make a short plan before starting your essay and consider potential points based around the argument – instead of a description of what happened.

Tip #3: Memorise a Good Essay Structure

There are many great ways to structure your legal essay to impress your examiner and get the top marks. Here are only a couple examples of effective structures:

CLEO Method:

C – Claim: Identify the particular issue relating to the facts;

L – Law: Present the specific law relevant to the issue;

E – Evaluate: Apply the law from the previous step to the facts or claims;

O – Outcome: Summarise and conclude by justifying the various points you have made.

This can be applied both at a paragraph level with a larger conclusion at the end, or in the essay as a whole.

For problem questions, it is vital that you know the law. Granted that you discuss the relevant law applicable to the scenario, you should apply the law to the facts with reference to the cases. A structure that works here is the:

IRAC Method:

I – Issue: Identify the problem;

R – Rule: Set out the legal principles that can be used to address or solve the problem;

A – Application: A detailed explanation of whether the claims can be justified and take time to infer the possible less-obvious aspects of the case;

C – Conclusion: Take on the role of a judge and use a persuasive explanation as to why the argument you accept as correct is the strongest.

Tip #4: Use Any Available Revision Resources

This is perhaps the easiest key to success since there are many ways you can improve your grade by simply using revision resources. An obvious example of this is using mark schemes of past or practise papers to see the type of answers achieving top-band marks.

Similarly, reading model answers from a revision guide or law textbook is also very beneficial.

Furthermore, a great revision resource is using websites that are specifically targeted to A-level law revision. Some examples are listed below:

  • Revision World
  • D.Hussain Publications
  • Hodder Plus 

By using these simple tips to your advantage, you can most certainly get that A* which you want and deserve. Good luck!

Published: 07/03/18     Author: Tvara Shah

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How to Write a Law Essay

Last Updated: August 11, 2023

This article was co-authored by Clinton M. Sandvick, JD, PhD . Clinton M. Sandvick worked as a civil litigator in California for over 7 years. He received his JD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1998 and his PhD in American History from the University of Oregon in 2013. This article has been viewed 241,039 times.

In a college legal studies course, and in some law school courses, you may be required to write a research paper addressing a legal topic. These essays can be tricky, because the law is constantly evolving. To secure a top grade, your essay must be well-researched and coherently argued. With proper planning and research, you can write a stellar legal essay. [Note: this article does not address how to write law school essay exams or bar exam questions, which require different techniques and strategies.]

Choosing an Essay Topic

Step 1 Carefully read the assignment prompt.

  • A narrow essay prompt might read, "Discuss the evolution and impact of the exclusionary rule of evidence in the United States." A broad prompt might read, "Discuss how a civil rights movement led to changes in federal and/or state law."
  • If you are invited to choose your own topic, your professor may require you to submit a written proposal or outline to ensure that your chosen topic complies with the prompt. If you are not sure if your topic is within the parameters of the prompt, propose your topic to your professor after class or during his or her office hours.

Step 2 Read any required materials.

  • Hopefully, your course readings, lectures, and class discussions will have given you enough background knowledge to select a topic. If not, review your class notes and browse online for additional background information.
  • It is not uncommon to change your topic after doing some research. You may end up narrowing the questions your essay will answer, or changing your topic completely.

Step 4 Choose an essay topic of interest to you.

  • If you can, try to focus on an are of the law that affects you. For example, if your family is involved in agriculture, you may be interested in writing about water use regulations .

Researching Your Topic

Step 1 Identify what types of sources you are required to use.

  • If you are prohibited from citing internet resources, you can still use online research to guide you to physical primary and secondary sources in your local library or bookstore.

Step 2 Begin with tertiary sources.

  • Look at footnotes, citations, and indexes in tertiary sources. These are great for finding books, articles, and legal cases that are relevant to your topic. Also take note of the names of authors, who may have written multiple works on your topic.

Step 3 Speak to a librarian.

  • Also find search engines for related fields, such as history or political science. Ask your librarian to recommend specialized search engines tailored to other disciplines that may have contributed to your topic.

Step 5 Gather sources and read them.

  • Never cut and paste from the web into your notes or essay. This often leads to inadvertent plagiarism because students forget what is a quotation and what is paraphrasing. When gathering sources, paraphrase or add quotation marks in your outline.
  • Plagiarism is a serious offense. If you ultimately hope to be a lawyer, an accusation of plagiarism could prevent you from passing the character and fitness review.

Step 7 Look for arguments on both sides of an issue.

Drafting the Essay

Step 1 Write your thesis statement.

  • An effective introduction takes the reader out of his world and into the world of your essay. [2] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source Explain why the subject is important and briefly summarizes the rest of your argument. After reading your introduction, your reader should know what you are going to discuss and in what order you will be discussing it.
  • Be prepared to revise your introduction later. Summarizing your essay will be easier after you have written it, especially if you deviate from your outline.

Step 4 Develop your arguments.

  • State each argument of your essay as a statement that, if true, would support your thesis statement.
  • Provide supporting information drawn from primary and secondary sources that support your argument. Remember to cite your sources.
  • Provide your own original analysis, explaining to the reader that based on the primary and secondary sources you have presented, the reader should be persuaded by your argument.

Step 5 Outline counter-arguments.

Formatting Your Essay

Step 1 Review your essay prompt.

Proofreading the Essay

Step 1 Read the essay backwards.

  • Open up a Word document. On the Quick Access Toolbar at the top, click on the down arrow. The words “Customize Quick Access Toolbar” will appear when you hover over the arrow for two seconds.
  • Click on the arrow. Then click on “More Commands.”
  • In the “Choose commands from” drop-down box, choose “All commands.”
  • Scroll down to find “Speak.” Highlight this and then click “add.” Then click “okay.” Now the Speak function should appear on your Quick Access Toolbar.
  • Highlight the text you want read back to you, and then click on the Speak icon. The text will be read back to you.

Step 3 Search for common typographical errors.

  • Do not rely on a spell checker exclusively, as it will not catch typos like "statute" versus "statue."

Revising the Essay

Step 1 Share the essay with a classmate.

  • You can share the essay with someone outside of class, but a classmate more likely has the requisite knowledge to understand the subject matter of the essay.

Step 2 Incorporate your professor’s comments.

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About This Article

Clinton M. Sandvick, JD, PhD

To write a law essay, start by writing a thesis statement on your chosen topic. Phrase your thesis statement as an argument, using words like “because” or “therefore” to state your point. Write an outline of the arguments you will use to support your thesis statement, then use that outline to build the body of your paper. Include any counter-arguments, but use your evidence to convince the reader why your point of view is valid, and the counter-arguments are not. Be sure to cite all of your sources in the format preferred by your professor. For tips from our reviewer on finding the best sources for your topic, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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how to write a law essay a level

Public Law for Everyone

by Professor Mark Elliott

Writing a Law essay? Remember to argue!

Providing advice in the abstract about how to write Law essays is difficult because so much depends on the nature of the question you are answering. It’s also important to take into account whatever are the expectations for your particular course, degree programme or university. Nevertheless, a useful rule of thumb, I think, is that a good Law essay will normally set out and advance a clear thesis or argument . (Note that I’m referring here to essays as distinct from problem questions: the latter call for a different approach.)

The need for an argument

Some answers explicitly call for this. Take, for example, the following essay title:

‘Do you agree that parliamentary sovereignty is the most important principle in the UK constitution?’

Here, the question itself in effect advances an argument — that parliamentary sovereignty is the most important principle in the constitution — and invites you to say whether you agree with it or not. And in saying whether you agree, you need to advance your own argument: ‘I agree with this because…’. Or: ‘I disagree because…’. Or even (because if the question advances a position that you think implies a misconception, oversimplification or false premise, you can say so): ‘I will argue that the question oversimplifies matters by assuming that a particular constitutional principle can be singled out as uniquely important…’

Other questions may indicate in a less direct way the need for you to put forward your own argument. For example:

‘“Parliamentary sovereignty is the most important principle in the UK constitution.” Discuss.’

Here, we don’t have a ‘do you agree?’ prompt; instead, we have the apparently less directive ‘discuss’ prompt. If we read the question literally, it may seem that there is no need for you to put forward your own argument here. After all, it’s possible to ‘discuss’ something without advancing your own argument about it: you could make various points, explain various matters, and leave the reader to make up their own mind. But while this may be formally true, it’s unwise to read the question in this way, because it creates the risk that you will end up writing something very general and descriptive on the topic without going any further.

To summarise, then, there are at least three reasons for making an argument part of your essay. First, the question will often call for this, whether explicitly or implicitly, such that you wouldn’t be answering the question if you didn’t set out and develop an argument. Second, if you don’t impose on yourself the discipline of articulating and defending an argument, you risk underselling yourself by writing something that is descriptive and meandering rather than purposefully constructed . Third, setting out and developing an argument involves taking ownership of the material. By that, I mean using the material in a way that serves the purposes of your argument, showing that you are in command of it and that it is not in command of you. This, in turn, provides an opportunity to demonstrate a level of understanding that it would be hard to show in a descriptive essay that simply wandered from point to point.

Setting our your thesis

If putting forward an argument is (often) important or necessary, how should it be done? There are no great secrets here: the formula is straightforward. You should begin your essay by stating your thesis — that is, by setting out what it is that you are going to argue. This should be done in your introductory paragraph — by the time the reader reaches the end of that paragraph, they should be in no doubt about what you are going to argue. Imagine, for instance, that you are presented with the following essay title:

‘“The courts have expanded their powers of judicial review beyond all acceptable constitutional limits in recent decades; it is time to clip the judges’ wings.” Discuss.’  

In response to such a question, it might be tempting to say in your introduction that (for example) you are going to ‘show’ how the courts’ powers of judicial review have grown, ‘consider’ why this has happened and ‘examine’ the criticisms of judicial over-reach that have resulted. These are all perfectly sensible things to do when writing an essay on this topic, but if that is all you say in your introduction, you will leave the reader wondering what you think — and what you are going to argue . In contrast, an introductory paragraph that lays the foundation for essay that properly advances a thesis will set out what that thesis is. You might, for instance, take each of the propositions set out in the question and stake out your position:

‘In this essay, I will argue that (a) while the courts’ powers of judicial review have grown in recent decades, (b) it is misguided to suggest that this has breached “all acceptable constitutional limits” and (c) that those who now advocate “clip[ping] the judges’ wings” misunderstand the role of the judiciary in a rule of law-based constitution. In other words, the courts’ judicial review powers are entirely appropriate and those who seek to limit them risk undermining the rule of law.’  

An introduction of this nature would achieve two things. First, it would make clear to the reader the position you proposed to take. Second, it would immediately lend the essay a structure.

Developing your thesis

Once you have set out your thesis in the introduction, you need to develop or defend it. This will involve making a series of connected points in successive paragraphs, each of which relates to your overarching thesis. One way of thinking about this is that the individual points you make in the main body of the essay should all relate or point back in some way — and in a clear way — to the position that you staked out in the introduction.

In the example introduction above, the overarching thesis is set out in the second sentence; the individual and connecting parts of the argument are set out in propositions (a), (b) and (c) in the first sentence. One approach, therefore, would be to divide the answer, once the introduction has been written, into three parts, dealing in turn with points (a), (b) and (c). Naturally, as you work through the various parts of your argument, you will need to cite relevant evidence (cases, legislation, literature and so on) in support of your argument. You will also need to deal with matters that appear, at least at first glance, to sit in opposition to your argument (on which see further below) or which, once properly considered, require your argument to be refined.  

A key point, however you proceed, is that the reader should also be clear about how each successive point relates not only to the previous point but also to the overarching argument. The reader should never be left wondering ‘Where does this fit in?’ or ‘Why am I being told this?’ A simple way of avoiding these problems is to signpost , by saying at the beginning of each section how it relates to the overall argument. The flipside of this coin is that you should avoid saying things like ‘Another point is that…’ since this gives the impression, rightly or wrongly, that the various points in your essay have been thrown together in a random order, with little thought as to how they fit together or relate to your overall argument. Even if that’s not the case, you don’t want to risk giving the reader that impression.

A one-sided approach?

The advice set about above might seem to imply that I’m suggesting you write one-sided essays — in which you set out points that support your argument while ignoring those that don’t. However, that’s not at all what I’m suggesting. In order to set out your argument in a persuasive manner, you need to deal both with relevant points that support your argument and with relevant points that appear to challenge your argument — and, in dealing with the latter points, you need to show why they do not in fact fatally undermine your argument. In other words, the approach I’m suggesting here doesn’t mean that you should adopt a blinkered approach, paying no attention to counterarguments: rather, you need to deal with them in a way that shows that, having thought about and weighed them in the balance, you are in a position to show why your argument stands in spite of them (or why your argument can be adapted in a way that accommodates such points).  

All of this points towards a further matter: namely, that advancing an argument in your essay does not mean that you need to (or should) be argumentative in the sense of adopting a strident tone that brooks no debate or compromise. Rather, advancing an argument in the way I’ve suggested here means being thoughtful and persuasive : taking the reader with you on a journey that demonstrates that you have looked at the relevant material, carefully thought through the issues raised by the question, and arrived at a view that you are able to justify and defend through well-reasoned and suitably evidenced argument.

So what about your conclusion? If you’ve followed my advice above, it should more or less write itself. People often agonise over conclusions, perhaps thinking that there has to be some ‘big reveal’ at the end of their essay. But there doesn’t need to be — and indeed there shouldn’t be — any big reveal. There should be no surprises at the end precisely because you’ve set out your argument at the beginning and spent the rest of the essay carefully constructing the different strands of your argument. The conclusion is an opportunity to draw those stands together, but no-one should have to wait with bated breath for the conclusion before finally realising: ‘Ah, so that’s what they think!’ If that’s the impact of the conclusion on your reader, it means there’s something wrong with the introduction!

This post was first published on The Law Prof blog . It is re-published here with permission and thanks.

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How to Structure an Essay

essay structure

Essay writing is a fundamental skill, a basic task, that is expected of those who choose to pursue their undergraduate and master’s degrees. It constitutes a key requirement for students to complete a given course credit. However, many students and early career researchers find themselves struggling with the challenge of organizing their thoughts into a coherent, engaging structure. This article is especially for those who see essay writing as a daunting task and face problems in presenting their work in an impactful way.  

Table of Contents

  • Writing an essay: basic elements and some key principles  
  • Essay structure template 
  • Chronological structure 
  • Problem-methods-solutions structure 
  • Compare and contrast structures 
  • Frequently asked questions on essay structure 

Read on as we delve into the basic elements of essay writing, outline key principles for organizing information, and cover some foundational features of writing essays.  

Writing an essay: basic elements and some key principles

Essays are written in a flowing and continuous pattern but with a structure of its own. An introduction, body and conclusion are integral to it. The key is to balance the amount and kind of information to be presented in each part. Various disciplines may have their own conventions or guidelines on the information to be provided in the introduction.  

A clear articulation of the context and background of the study is important, as is the definition of key terms and an outline of specific models or theories used. Readers also need to know the significance of the study and its implications for further research. Most importantly, the thesis or the main proposition should be clearly presented.  

The body of the essay is therefore organized into paragraphs that hold the main ideas and arguments and is presented and analyzed in a logical manner. Ideally, each paragraph of the body focuses on one main point or a distinct topic and must be supported by evidence and analysis. The concluding paragraph should bring back to the reader the key arguments, its significance and food for thought. It is best not to re-state all the points of the essay or introduce a new concept here. 

In other words, certain general guidelines help structure the information in the essay. The information must flow logically with the context or the background information presented in the introductory part of the essay. The arguments are built organically where each paragraph in the body of the essay deals with a different point, yet closely linked to the para preceding and following it. Importantly, when writing essays, early career researchers must be careful in ensuring that each piece of information relates to the main thesis and is a building block to the arguments. 

Essay structure template

  • Introduction 
  • Provide the context and share significance of the study 
  • Clearly articulate the thesis statement 
  • Body  
  • Paragraph 1 consisting of the first main point, followed by supporting evidence and an analysis of the findings. Transitional words and phrases can be used to move to the next main point. 
  • There can be as many paragraphs with the above-mentioned elements as there are points and arguments to support your thesis. 
  • Conclusion  
  • Bring in key ideas and discuss their significance and relevance 
  • Call for action 
  • References 

Essay structures

The structure of an essay can be determined by the kind of essay that is required.  

Chronological structure

Also known as the cause-and-effect approach, this is a straightforward way to structure an essay. In such essays, events are discussed sequentially, as they occurred from the earliest to the latest. A chronological structure is useful for discussing a series of events or processes such as historical analyses or narratives of events. The introduction should have the topic sentence. The body of the essay should follow a chorological progression with each para discussing a major aspect of that event with supporting evidence. It ends with a summarizing of the results of the events.  

Problem-methods-solutions structure

Where the essay focuses on a specific problem, the problem-methods-solutions structure can be used to organize the essay. This structure is ideal for essays that address complex issues. It starts with presenting the problem, the context, and thesis statement as introduction to the essay. The major part of the discussion which forms the body of the essay focuses on stating the problem and its significance, the author’s approach or methods adopted to address the problem along with its relevance, and accordingly proposing solution(s) to the identified problem. The concluding part offers a recap of the research problem, methods, and proposed solutions, emphasizing their significance and potential impact. 

Compare and contrast structures

This structure of essay writing is ideally used when two or more key subjects require a comparison of ideas, theories, or phenomena. The three crucial elements, introduction, body, and conclusion, remain the same. The introduction presents the context and the thesis statement. The body of the essay seeks to focus on and highlight differences between the subjects, supported by evidence and analysis. The conclusion is used to summarize the key points of comparison and contrast, offering insights into the significance of the analysis.  

Depending on how the subjects will be discussed, the body of the essay can be organized according to the block method or the alternating method. In the block method, one para discusses one subject and the next para the other subject. In the alternative method, both subjects are discussed in one para based on a particular topic or issue followed by the next para on another issue and so on.  

Frequently asked questions on essay structure

An essay structure serves as a framework for presenting ideas coherently and logically. It comprises three crucial elements: an introduction that communicates the context, topic, and thesis statement; the body focusing on the main points and arguments supported with appropriate evidence followed by its analysis; and a conclusion that ties together the main points and its importance .  

An essay structure well-defined essay structure enhances clarity, coherence, and readability, and is crucial for organizing ideas and arguments to effectively communicate key aspects of a chosen topic. It allows readers to better understand arguments presented and demonstrates the author’s ability to organize and present information systematically. 

Yes, while expert recommend following an essay structure, early career researchers may choose how best to adapt standard essay structures to communicate and share their research in an impactful and engaging way. However, do keep in mind that deviating too far from established structures can hinder comprehension and weaken the overall effectiveness of the essay,  By understanding the basic elements of essay writing and employing appropriate structures such as chronological, problem-methods-solutions, or compare and contrast, researchers can effectively organize their ideas and communicate their findings with clarity and precision. 

Paperpal is a comprehensive AI writing toolkit that helps students and researchers achieve 2x the writing in half the time. It leverages 21+ years of STM experience and insights from millions of research articles to provide in-depth academic writing, language editing, and submission readiness support to help you write better, faster.  

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The Science of Strong Business Writing

  • Bill Birchard

how to write a law essay a level

Lessons from neurobiology

Brain scans are showing us in new detail exactly what entices readers. Scientists can see a group of midbrain neurons—the “reward circuit”—light up as people respond to everything from a simple metaphor to an unexpected story twist. The big takeaway? Whether you’re crafting an email to a colleague or an important report for the board, you can write in a way that delights readers on a primal level, releasing pleasure chemicals in their brains.

Bill Birchard is an author and writing coach who’s worked with many successful businesspeople. He’s drawn on that experience and his review of the scientific literature to identify eight features of satisfying writing: simplicity, specificity, surprise, stirring language, seductiveness, smart ideas, social content, and storytelling. In this article, he shares tips for using those eight S’s to captivate readers and help your message stick.

Strong writing skills are essential for anyone in business. You need them to effectively communicate with colleagues, employees, and bosses and to sell any ideas, products, or services you’re offering.

how to write a law essay a level

  • Bill Birchard is a business author and book-writing coach. His Writing for Impact: 8 Secrets from Science That Will Fire Up Your Reader’s Brain will be published by HarperCollins Leadership in April 2023. His previous books include Merchants of Virtue, Stairway to Earth, Nature’s Keepers, Counting What Counts, and others. For more writing tactics, see his website .  

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How Biden’s New Immigration Policy Works

The new policy will give some 500,000 people a pathway to citizenship.

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The silhouette of a person trying to cut a hole in a fence marked with barbed wire.

By Hamed Aleaziz

President Biden’s new immigration policy protects some 500,000 people who are married to U.S. citizens from deportation and gives them a pathway to citizenship.

The election-year move comes just two weeks after Mr. Biden imposed a major crackdown at the U.S.-Mexico border, cutting off access to asylum for people who crossed into the United States illegally.

The policy announced on Tuesday is aimed at people who have been living in the United States for more than a decade and have built their lives and families here.

Here is how it works:

Why do the spouses of American citizens need protection?

Marrying an American citizen generally provides a pathway to U.S. citizenship. But people who crossed the southern border illegally — rather than arriving in the country with a visa — must return to their home countries to complete the process for a green card, something that can take years. The new program allows families to remain in the country while they pursue legal status.

Who is eligible?

There are roughly 1.1 million undocumented immigrants married to U.S. citizens in the United States, according to , an immigration advocacy group, but not all of them are eligible for the program.

The spouses must have lived in the United States for 10 years and have been married to an American citizen as of June 17. They cannot have a criminal record. Officials estimate that the policy will provide legal status and protections for about 500,000 people. The benefits would also extend to the roughly 50,000 children of undocumented spouses who became stepchildren to American citizens.

When will the program take effect?

Biden administration officials said they expected the program to start by the end of the summer. Those eligible will then be able to apply for the benefits.

Why is President Biden doing this now?

Mr. Biden is trying to strike a tricky balance on immigration, which is a serious political vulnerability for him. Polls show Americans want tougher policies. Just two weeks ago, Mr. Biden announced a crackdown on asylum at the southern border.

His new policy, giving hundreds of thousands of immigrants new legal protections, is a way for him to answer the calls from the progressive base of the Democratic Party, which has accused the White House of betraying campaign promises to enact a more humane approach to immigrants.

Hamed Aleaziz covers the Department of Homeland Security and immigration policy. More about Hamed Aleaziz


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