While some may have thought the child-migrant crisis at our Southern borders might discourage the president from further executive action on immigration, it seems to be having the opposite effect. In fact, having raised public awareness of immigration as an issue with increased “urgency” that the public feels in fixing it, the Administration perceives this issues to have garnered broad public permission to take action. White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said Sunday that President Obama will decide by the end of the summer exactly which steps he will take on immigration. Obama is waiting to receive recommendations from Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson before he proceeds.
Immigrant groups want the president to use his executive power to expand the use of “prosecutorial discretion” to extend temporary protection from deportation to the millions of illegal migrants who would have qualified for a “path to citizenship” under the Senate’s bipartisan immigration reform, which has stalled in the House. Specifically, the White house is said to be considering “deferred action” to parents of U.S. citizens, which could benefit five million of the eleven million undocumented aliens believed to be presently residing in the United States. Another option being considered is the expansion of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, or “DACA” program, which has allowed 540,000 “Dreamers”, people brought to the United States as children, to secure Employment Authorization Documents “EAD” in two-year intervals. Specifically such an expansion would allow the parents of the DACA beneficiaries to receive EADs as well.
On the child-migrant crisis, Obama is said to continue to support changing the 2008 child-trafficking law has been a sticking point in his efforts for emergency funding. That law has had the unintended consequences of creating a huge backlog of immigration cases for unaccompanied minors in our immigration courts. Although some Republicans and Democrats in Congress support changing the law to expedite the cases and deportations, many Democrats say changing the law would deprive endangered children of their due process.
However, on a related issue, the White House has neither confirmed nor denied a New York Times account that, in the hopes of trying to stem the tide of young Central American migrants at our Southwest border, the White House is considering a plan to accept refugees from Honduras whose applications are processed in that country. Those approved would be admitted to the United States have our government to screen thousands of youths in Honduras to determine if they will be permitted as refugees or on emergency humanitarian grounds. One of the issues being debated is whether the program should be limited to children who have at least one relative in the United States, so that the government would not be saddled with custodial issues. Whether that relative would have to have legal residency is another issue that was addressed but not resolved. Under the proposal supported by Senator McCain, with refugee applicants being processed in their home country, those child migrants arriving in the United States illegally could be deported much more quickly, thus alleviating such backlogs at our border.