President Barack Obama will introduce 10 executive actions that could suspend deportations for and legalize more than 5 million illegal immigrants as early as next week, news reports say.
The plan was part of a draft proposal to a federal agency that was leaked to Fox News
, the network reported on Wednesday.
Obama's announcement could come as early as Nov. 21 or shortly thereafter, a White House source told Fox.
The president was briefed on the plan by the Department of Homeland Security before he left on his trip to Asia and the Pacific last week, Fox reports. One of the architects of the plan was Esther Olavarria, the top immigration lawyer on the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's staff.
Among the plan's most controversial elements include orders that would expand deportation deferrals not only to illegals who came to the U.S. as children, but to the parents of U.S. citizens — those who were born in this country — and those who have become legal permanent residents.
The parental expansion could allow as many as 4.5 million illegal adults with U.S.-born children to remain in the country, Fox reports.
Obama's orders also would expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program he created in June 2012.
DACA affected millions of illegals who were brought to the United States as children before June 2007 and who were under 31 years old as of June 2012, when the program started.
With the new order, Obama would expand DACA to cover anyone who entered the United States before age 16 — and would move the cutoff date back to Jan. 1, 2010.
This is expected to affect nearly 300,000 illegal immigrants, Fox reports.
In addition, a State Department immigrant visa program involving technology jobs would offer another half-million immigrants a path to citizenship, according to Fox. Spouses also would be helped by the program.
According to Fox, the DHS plans to "promote" the new naturalization process by giving a 50 percent discount on the first 10,000 applicants who come forward, with the exception of those whose incomes are above 200 percent of the national poverty level.
Other planned executive actions would increase pay for Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers — an effort to "increase morale" within the agency, Fox reports — and the administration would revise its priorities to target only serious criminals for deportation, while replacing its current "Secure Communities" program with a new effort.
The Fox report comes as Obama vowed last week to act unilaterally on immigration in the absence of congressional action.
He was attacked by House Speaker John Boehner, who said any such move would "poison the well" with Republicans, and by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who likened it to "waving a red flag in front of a bull."
McConnell, who will become majority leader when the new Congress convenes in January, reiterated his opposition to Obama's acting alone on immigration in a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday.
"President Obama has a duty to help build the trust we all need to move forward together, not to double-down on old ways of doing business," McConnell said. "That's why I think moving forward with the unilateral action on immigration he's planned would be a big mistake."
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