Tags: immigration | Obama | parents | deportation

Obama Immigration Orders Said to Include Parents of Citizens

Tuesday, 18 Nov 2014 06:50 PM

President Barack Obama plans to grant a reprieve from deportation to undocumented immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, part of an order that would let 4 million to 5 million people stay in the U.S., according to people familiar with the proposal.

The White House is also likely to include an expansion of a program Obama started in 2012, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which has given reprieves to 600,000 child immigrants. The administration’s move may come as soon as Nov. 20, according to the people, who requested anonymity before a formal announcement.

In addition, Obama will expand a program that gives work permits for up to 29 months to foreign graduates of U.S. universities with degrees in science, technology, engineering and math. That provides more workers to fill high-tech jobs.

The administration already once broadened eligibility for the program in 2012 by increasing the qualifying fields of study.

Obama’s order is expected to stop short of including the parents of children brought to this country illegally, called Dreamers, the people said. Senate Democrats were pressing the White House to cover this group under the current plan.

Republican Threat

Republicans in Congress are vowing to try to block the executive order, arguing that it’s an unconstitutional power grab that will poison the environment for bipartisan compromise in the new Congress.

A group of at least 60 House Republicans is pushing to use a government funding bill to deny the president the money needed to implement his order. Congress must approve funds by Dec. 11 to keep the government open or risk an interruption similar to last year, when Republican demands to defund the president’s health-care law led to a 16-day partial shutdown.

Democratic lawmakers have been urging the president to be bold with his plan. They say the Republican-led House has failed to take up a bill the Senate passed last year with bipartisan support creating a path to citizenship for many of the nation’s estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants.

Obama Strategy

The idea behind Obama’s strategy is to cover categories of immigrants that would be difficult for Republican opponents to successfully oppose since it would involve separating parents from their children, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the plan.

By centering his plan on family unification, Obama is seeking to drive a wedge in the Republican Party, which includes members who support what the president is doing even if they oppose his use of presidential powers to achieve it.

Republicans are split, with some who say the party must take steps to ease its stance against undocumented immigrants and others who consider them lawbreakers who don’t deserve what many label amnesty.

National demographic shifts, particularly in competitive states such as Nevada and Florida, make the support of Hispanic voters critical to both political parties.

Republicans have already begun to temper some of their threats over shutting down the government to stop Obama.

Considering Alternatives

Earlier today, House Speaker John Boehner and his allies said they are reviewing alternatives to using a funding bill to fight the executive order, including retroactively canceling money in 2015 for any action taken by Obama.

Republican Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a Boehner ally, said many members “understand what was done in October of last year is not the appropriate way going forward.” Court challenges also are a possibility, he said.

“The conference is trying to be a lot more thoughtful,” Cole said. “Our aim is to shut down what the president is doing, not to shut down the government.”

The White House began sharing both policy and messaging plans today with outside groups and Democrats on Capitol Hill. In addition to arguing that Obama has the legal authority to revamp the immigration system, the White House says Congress can step in at any time with legislation.

“There is a very simple solution to the perception that somehow the president is exercising too much executive authority, and that’s for Congress to pass a bipartisan bill to permanently fix the system,” according to White House talking points, which were obtained by Bloomberg.

“If they get that done, the president looks forward to signing it into law, superseding the actions he’s taken on his own to fix as much of the system as he can.”

Numbers Questions

The number of people who would be protected from prosecution depends on how the executive order is structured and whether it requires the undocumented parents and spouses of U.S. citizens and permanent residents to have been in the country for five years or 10 years to qualify.

The Migration Policy Institute has estimated that a five-year threshold would protect 3.3 million parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents. It would also provide a reprieve for 1.2 million spouses, a set that overlaps with the group of parents. The figures would be much lower, 2.5 million parents and 910,000 spouses ,if the bar was set at 10 years, according to the institute.

In addition, the institute reported, 520,000 undocumented immigrants would be shielded by an Obama order that changes eligibility for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program by eliminating the maximum age of 30 and changing the age of arrival to under 18.

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President Barack Obama plans to grant a reprieve from deportation to undocumented immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, part of an order that would let 4 million to 5 million people stay in the U.S., according to people familiar with the...
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Tuesday, 18 Nov 2014 06:50 PM
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