By Rick Moran
President Obama is preparing executive orders that would grant up to 5 million illegal aliens temporary legal status, giving them the ability to work in the US.
Time Magazine is reporting that, although Obamaa is keeping his options open, it is likely he will grant relief from deportation and the temporary work authorizations to millions of illegal immigrants. Some experts believe Obama possesses this authority, although Republicans in Congress will almost certainly dispute that.
Exactly what Obama plans to do is a closely held secret. But following the meeting with the activists, Obama declared his intention to use his executive authority to reform parts of a broken immigration system that has cleaved families and hobbled the economy. After being informed by Speaker John Boehner that the Republican-controlled House would not vote on a comprehensive overhaul of U.S. immigration law this year, the President announced in a fiery speech that he was preparing “to do what Congress refuses to do, and fix as much of our immigration system as we can.”
Obama has been cautious about preempting Congress. But its failure to act has changed his thinking. The recent meeting “was really the first time we had heard from the administration that they are looking at” expanding a program to provide temporary relief from deportations and work authorization for undocumented immigrants, says Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.
The White House won’t comment on how many undocumented immigrants could be affected. “I don’t want to put a number on it,” says a senior White House official, who says Obama’s timeline to act before the mid-term elections remains in place.
Obama has a broad menu of options at his disposal, but there are two major sets of changes he can order. The first is to provide affirmative relief from deportation to one or more groups of people. Under this mechanism, individuals identified as “low-priority” threats can come forward to seek temporary protection from deportation and work authorization. In 2012, the administration created a program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), that allowed eligible young unauthorized immigrants to apply for a two-year reprieve from deportation and a work permit.
The most aggressive option in this category would be expanding deferred action to anyone who could have gained legal status under the bipartisan bill that passed the Senate in June 2013. According to a Congressional Budget Office analysis, the Senate bill would have covered up to 8 million undocumented immigrants. It is unlikely that Obama goes that far. But even more modest steps could provide relief to a population numbering in the seven figures. “You can get to big numbers very quickly,” says Marshall Fitz, director of immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank.
“Obama has been cautious about preempting Congress.” Uh-huh. He was cautious 41 times when he unilaterally altered Obamacare. He was cautious when he unilaterally changed the law to allow hundreds of thousands of DREAMers legal status. He was cautious when he unilaterally halted most deportations. He was cautious when he ordered the Justice Department not to enforce DOMA. He was cautious when he made illegal recess appointments to the NLRB.
I don’t think Time has the same definition of “cautious” as you and I do.
Rep. Gutierrez believes that the number will be about 5 million. It will almost certainly include agricultural workers to make the Chamber of Commerce happy. Others on the list to be amnestied include family members of DREAMers already made legal by Obama’s other executive order.
Does anyone believe that this “temporary legal status” will actually be temporary?
No comment yet from the 1.5 million people waiting in other countries who are seeking to come to the US legally.