About President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration

Deferred action
Image via Shutterstock

Sahil Kapur has a good backgrounder on what to expect from Obama’s announcement of an executive action guaranteed to send the entire right wing into a frenzy: All You Need to Know About Obama’s Executive Action to Legalize 5 Million.

The cornerstone of Obama’s executive action is a new “deferred action” program to authorize undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents temporarily live and work in the country, as long as they’ve resided here for at least 5 years and can show that their child was born before the date of Obama’s announcement. This huge action covers more than 4 million people. Separately, Obama will expand his 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which currently covers people born after 1981 who came to the country before June 15, 2007 — the expanded program will scrap the age cap and move the cutoff date to January 1, 2010. It’s expected to cover some 270,000 new so-called DREAMers.

Despite intense lobbying by immigrant-rights groups, the action will not cover parents of DREAMers, or DACA beneficiaries. A senior administration official said that after an exhaustive review of the White House’s legal options, “we made a determination that the law essentially did not support that. … By executive action he can only do so much.”

This action is temporary, and can be reversed by the next president. “It is not a pathway to citizenship,” a senior administration official stressed, saying that the administration will begin accepting applications in the spring (potentially sooner for the expanded DACA program). Each applicant will be required to pass a background check to receive what will be a three-year work authorization under both programs. They’ll also have to pay taxes and stay on the right side of the law. Their reprieves and work permits are granted on the basis of the longstanding exercise of prosecutorial discretion, and can be revoked at any time at the discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security.

And of course:

Republicans are gearing up to mount a massive backlash that could include a government shutdown standoff or a lawsuit. The conservative base is apoplectic about Obama’s actions, and rank-and-file GOP lawmakers are floating everything from impeachment to jailing the president.

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