I saw Barbara Boxer’s tweet below this morning, and found some historical precedent that supports presidential discretion in immigration matters, collected by the American Immigration Council.
Funny, Republicans never complained when Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. took executive action to stop deportations.— Sen. Barbara Boxer (@SenatorBoxer) November 7, 2014
“…as immigration legal scholar Hiroshi Motomura has noted, the president has broad executive authority to shape the enforcement and implementation of immigration laws, including exercising prosecutorial discretion to defer deportations and streamline certain adjudications. In fact, history books reveal that President Obama’s action follows a long line of presidents who relied on their executive branch authority to address immigration challenges.”
Large-scale actions: In addition to Family Fairness, other large-scale actions include paroles of up to 600,000 Cubans in the 1960s and over 300,000 Southeast Asians in the 1970s, President Carter’s suspension of deportations for over 250,000 visa-holders, and President Reagan’s deferral of deportations for up to 200,000 Nicaraguans.
Family-based actions: Other actions to protect families include the suspended deportations of families of visa-holders (Carter), parole of foreign-born orphans (Eisenhower, Obama), deferred action to widows of U.S. citizens and their children (Obama), and parole-in-place to families of military members (Obama).
Actions while legislation was pending: Other actions taken while legislation was pending include parole of Cuban asylum seekers fleeing Castro (Nixon, Kennedy, Johnson), deferred action to battered immigrants whom the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) would protect (Clinton), parole of orphans (Eisenhower), and DACA (Obama).
39 examples of executive grants of temporary immigration relief, 1956-present: