In furtherance of Obama’s statement last month that, because Congress had failed to act on comprehensive immigration reform, he would take executive action to “fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own”. The White House is now laying the groundwork for a large-scale expansion of immigrant rights within weeks by way of executive order. Roughly 5 million of the estimated 11 million people who entered the country without legal authorization, or who overstayed their legal status, could be protected from removal under an option favored by the White House.
The President is considering a range of possibilities that would speed up deportations in some cases but avoid them in many others. Specifically, although Obama could use his executive powers to expedite deportations in an effort to remove many of the unaccompanied minors gathering in south Texas each day, he also seems likely to use executive power to prevent the deportations of many of the immigrants already living, working and raising families in the U.S.
One option being considered is to allow immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens to apply for temporary legal status, which would let them work legally in the U.S. Because children born in the country automatically receive U.S. citizenship, that option could result in the temporary legalization of about 5 million people.
A second option would be to allow temporary legal status for the parents of young people already granted deportation deferrals under Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as “DACA”, which has already helped about 520,000 young people receive Employment Authorization Documents “EAD”. However, leading Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, have already called for ending the deferred action program, and any move to expand it would certainly receive a furious response from conservatives. In fact, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R- Ohio) has already “opened the door to impeachment” with his plans to sue Obama for allegedly exceeding his executive authority mainly on this issue.