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Obama Considering Immediate Executive Action on Immigration Reform

Obama Considering Immediate Executive Action on Immigration Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Obama is said to be considering executive action on immigration reform as early as next week.

This news led to Republican lawmakers blasting the White House after Fox News reported that Obama is planning to unveil a 10-part plan for overhauling U.S. immigration policy via executive action.

The New York Times is reporting that Obama will ignore the protests from Republicans and continue with the action.

As we previously reported, Obama delayed executive action on the issue in September, choosing to wait until after the November midterm elections.

At that time, Obama told NBC’s Meet the Press, “When I take executive action, I want to make sure that it’s sustainable.  What I’m saying is that I’m going to act because it’s the right thing for the country.  But it’s going to be more sustainable and more effective if the public understands what the facts are on immigration.”

Administration officials have told the NYT that under this potential overhaul, up to five million undocumented immigrants would be protected from the threat of deportation and many of them would be provided with work permits.

Officials also added that Obama intends to order changes to significantly refocus the activities of the government’s 12,000 immigration agents by allowing many parents of children who are American citizens or legal residents to obtain legal work documents.

The NYT cites an analysis by the Migration Policy Institute that says part of the plan alone could affect up to 3.3 million people who have been living in the U.S. illegally for at least five years.

Fox News has listed the 10 actions being weighed by the President and what they mean.  They are:

  • Expand ‘deferred action’ for young illegal immigrants – This change to existing law would change the cutoff date for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children before the cut-off from June 2007 to January 2010.
  • Expand ‘deferred action’ for parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents – This would give a reprieve to illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. over 5 years and have children who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.
  • Prioritize deportations for serious criminals – This would be a Department of Homeland Security-wide enforcement polity to prioritize deportations for serious criminals or individuals deemed a threat.
  • End ‘Secure Communities’ and start a new program – The controversial Secure Communities plan would be removed entirely.
  • Boost pay for ICE officers – This calls for a pay raise for Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to “increase morale.”
  • Expand high-tech visas – This would expand visas for foreign-born workers with high-tech skills, to support U.S. business.
  • Strengthen border security – This would commit additional resources to the U.S.-Mexico border to deal with illegal immigrant traffic.
  • Expand provisional waivers to spouses and children of legal permanent residents – This would expand the program that was announced in January 2013.  The waiver lets them stay in the country.
  • Expand ‘parole’ – The government currently allows ‘parole’ for illegal immigrant relatives and spouses of U.S. military members, letting them stay in the country.  This proposed change expands the program for illegal immigrants whose children are citizens.
  • Promote the naturalization process – The naturalization fee is $680.  To encourage people to being the process, DHS would take 50% off of the fee for the first 10,000 applicants.

Republicans aren’t the only ones concerned over the immediacy of this potential action.  The Huffington Post reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, said yesterday that he has urged the President not to take any executive action on immigration until December.

Reid asked Obama to wait until December because many are concerned that if he acts before a December 11 deadline for passing a new spending bill, the immigration debate could be thrown into the budget process which could potentially trigger a partial government shutdown, according to Fox News.

"The President has said he's going to do the executive action – the question is when he can do it. It's up to him," Reid told reporters on Capitol Hill. "I'd like to get the finances of this country out of the way before he does it."  Reid did also note, however, that the decision is totally up to Obama.

Fox is reporting that Rep. Matt Salmon, R-AZ, has already gathered dozens of signatures on a letter calling for no funding for “the President’s reported intentions to create work permits and green cards for undocumented immigrants currently in the United States.”  GOP leaders are also considering a bill to block that action

This is certainly a hot-button issue.  Stay tuned to AndNowUKnow as we continue to track this story.