Given Congress’ inability to make any headway on immigration reform before adjourning for their summer recess, the Obama administration is trying to figure out what executive actions it can take without them.
Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson have said they will give President Obama options on changing current deportation regulations by the end of this summer.
Human rights groups and immigration activists have urged the administration to act quickly to
help the approximately 11 million immigrants currently living illegally in the country, calling for deportations to be stopped for as many as possible.
“It remains an open question whether these proposals that are floated by a wide variety of advocates on this issue is something that falls within the president’s authority to act on,” said press secretary Josh Earnest. “So, I’m going to let the legal experts render a judgement on that and consider what options are available to the president.”
Obama, who is already facing a lawsuit filed by Republican legislators accusing him of executive overreach, has limited options without going through Congress or the courts. But there are a few things he can do.
According to The Hill, the president’s options include:
- Issue a prioritization memo on deportations. President Obama could direct prosecutors to focus deportation efforts on individuals convicted of serious crimes —not those with minor criminal convictions.
- Expand DACA. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, announced in 2012, affords temporary legal status and work permits to children brought to the country illegally. The administration is reviewing whether to extend it to those children’s parents or to illegal immigrants with children born in the U.S.
- Roll back Secure Communities. Activists have asked the president to limit the program, which allows local governments to share the fingerprints of individuals who are arrested with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Those flagged as illegal immigrants can be deported, even if they are not convicted of a crime.
- Reinterpret existing law. The administration could more charitably define waivers and visa requirements to allow individuals — especially those with family ties to the U.S. — greater opportunity to enter the country, even if they had previously violated immigration law.
Regardless of which option the Obama administration chooses to go with, it needs to act quickly and decisively. The Republicans in Congress have shown no desire to cooperate or compromise, and that is not likely to change once they readjourn on Sept. 4th.
Watch Pap discuss this on MSNBC’s The Ed Show below.