Obama Could Announce Immigration Reform Plan by Next Week
UP to 5 million undocumented immigrants could soon be granted amnesty through an executive order President Barack Obama is expected to announce when he returns to the United States from Asia.
When the President will reveal his plan remains unknown, but reports say it could be as early as next Friday, November 21.
The protection of millions of undocumented immigrants is part of a 10-part immigration policy Obama plans to approve no later than next month. The plan would pardon all undocumented immigrants who entered the US as children, and would allow parents with children who are US citizens to secure legal work papers, officials said.
“Before the end of the year, we’re going to take whatever lawful actions that I can take that I believe will improve the functioning of our immigration system,” Obama said at a news conference the day after the midterm elections. “What I’m not going to do is just wait.”
An analysis by the Migration Policy Institute states that the amnesty segment of Obama’s plan could apply to up to the 3.3 million who have resided in America for at least five years.
However, another option in consideration is to offer protection to those who what resided in the country for a minimum of 10 years. This would reduce the number to 2.5 million. Although a formal announcement has yet to be made, Democrats stand behind Obama’s promise. Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), proponents for immigration reform, wrote a letter to Obama saying they said they were disappointed when the he delayed action until after the November election, but were encouraged when the president said he would act before the year’s end.
“The legal authority for taking executive action is clear and substantial…. We will stand with you as you … protect American families, strengthen local communities and grow the economy,” the senators wrote. Asian American leaders have also expressed support for the plan, particularly because it could help keep families together.
Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park), who is also Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said families need to be prioritized in immigration reform. “This is a problem disproportionally felt by the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) community, who account for 40 percent of the 4.2 million individuals waiting for a family immigration visa and over 80 percent of the employer based visa backlog,” reads a statement from Chu’s office. Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said the organization is “encouraged” to see Obama acting on his promise.
“By acting boldly on administrative relief, the President will demonstrate the enormously positive impact of giving immigrant families a chance to live without fear, come out of the shadows and contribute to the economy in a meaningful way,” he said in a statement.
With the details of Obama’s plan still unknown, Choi asked the president to ensure administrative relief includes young DREAMers and the parents of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Republicans, on the other hand, have expressed disapproval of Obama’s plan. “He will make the issue absolutely toxic for a decade,” Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz) told Fox News.
The Christian Science Monitor reported that Republican critics have deemed the president’s plan a “nuclear option” on a matter that should be decided the way that legislation is typically settled. One group of Republicans said it is ready to counter the president’s executive order and is especially opposed to extending “executive amnesty” to millions of undocumented immigrants in America.
The group hopes to encourage other Republicans to block the passage of a budget in the following month unless this portion of the plan is omitted. “Our office stands ready to use any procedural means available to make sure the President can’t enact his illegal executive amnesty,” Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for Sen. Ted Cruz, told Fox News. Obama anticipated legal backlash from Republicans, which is why attorneys have been working on making the policy “legally unassailable,” officials said.
Immigration activists who attended “listening sessions” regarding Obama’s plan at the White House came ready with arguments to combat disputes received. With the upcoming 2016 presidential election, immigrant groups, including Hispanic voters, are an instrumental segment of the voting population that could keep Democrats in the White House.
These groups, however, expect to see active measures taken toward progressive immigration reform. “This is his last chance to make good on his promise to fix the system,” Kevin Appleby, Director of Migration Policy at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the New York Times. “If he delays again, the immigration activists would—just politically speaking—jump the fence.”
Other parts of Obama’s policy include boosting pay for immigration officers and enhancing border security. It would also provide a path to citizenship to half a million immigrants with high-tech skills through the State Department.
(With reports from The Christian Science Monitor, Fox News, The New York Times and The Washington Post)