4.5 Million Illegals Can Stay: Obama’s Executive Action

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Even in the face of fierce opposition, new evidence indicates that President Obama is serious about going through with his executive action on illegal immigration. Fox News reported today that we could see the official unveiling as early as next week. The plans, as told to Fox by an unnamed source close to the White House, included suspended deportations for millions of illegal aliens.

Obama has long promised that he would use his executive authority to push through his own brand of immigration reform, setting a timetable for the action back in the summer. That got pushed back to “after the midterms” when Obama realized how crushing such a maneuver could be for his party. Now, with no further political campaigns to worry about, Obama is free to pursue the order without any particular fear of repercussions.

What’s interesting about the draft is that it does not specifically call for “amnesty,” proving that Obama is still playing politics with the future of the country. Instead, it calls for a dramatic increase in “deferred deportations,” a system he first flirted with when he signed the DACA Act into law in 2012. The new proposal calls for an expansion of that law while also providing deferred action for the parents of U.S. citizens. This alone could make it possible for nearly 5 million illegal immigrants to stay without fear of deportation.

Republicans: Don’t Do It

Meanwhile, Republicans in the House of Representatives have drafted a new letter to party officials that insists there should be language in the new spending bill that prevents Obama from going it alone on immigration. The letter’s organizer, Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona, said that Congress needs to use the power of the purse to defend its right to enact immigration legislation.

While Salmon thinks he can gather enough Democratic support in the lame duck to put that kind of language in the bill, the rhetoric coming from opposition leadership seems to indicate otherwise. The Congressional Progressive Caucus – comprised of some of the House’s most liberal Democrats – sent a memo to the president saying, “The president has the legal authority and moral imperative to provide relief for over 7 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the shadows.”

If the immigration action resembles the draft Fox News is working from, it may manage to trigger anger on both sides of the aisle. Hispanic leaders have called for bold action on immigration, and it’s entirely possible that they won’t be satisfied with more deferred deportations. Meanwhile, Republicans will still see this as a massive overreach of executive branch authority.

Senior White House officials maintain that Obama has not yet finalized his plans on immigration reform, however, meaning that we could see something dramatically different in the weeks to come. Feeling pressured by Republicans, Obama may even choose to put his promise of executive action on the backburner. Given his many vows to the contrary, though, that course seems increasingly unlikely. Too bad, because if his “10-point” plan goes down like this, it’s not going to make anyone happy.