Published: November 13, 2014
The next 45 days should be real interesting. President Obama put off any executive action on immigration until after the mid-term elections, where we all know the Democrats took a shellacking. Now that the mid-terms are over, President Obama has been left with no choice but to take executive action since he has no reason to believe Congress will work with him on the passage of substantive, long term legislation. Although executive action on immigration will fall short of conferring any sort of permanent legal status for undocumented individuals, it indeed advances an agenda to find a solution to our nation’s 12 million undocumented problem.
More likely than not, President Obama, in the coming month or so, will announce implementation of a plan to confer “Deferred Action” status and perhaps employment authorization for millions of individuals who are present in the U.S. without documentation. The eligibility guidelines for this status, such as required length of residence in the U.S. and which criminal convictions will disqualify applicants, remains anyone’s guess. It would not surprise me, however, if the program will in many ways resemble the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive action program President Obama unveiled a couple years back for certain undocumented individuals who arrived in the U.S. as young children. In many regards, this program has been a huge success, as more than 550,000 have been approved for a life changing 2 year employment authorization document – an essential document for “starting a normal life” in the U.S., as it allows applicants to receive a Social Security Number, a state identification card and /or driver’s license. Yes, the status and employment authorization are renewable, but the program does not confer any long term status or the right to travel internationally, although the latter can be facilitated under urgent circumstances.
In recent days, Obama has been warned, scolded and lectured by Republican leaders not to go the executive action route. By moving forward with executive action, the President, according to the Boehners and McCains will kill any chances of an appropriate, congressionally facilitated long term legislative fix. But in truth, Obama has been warned all along to wait, and to wait, and to wait some more. Already, more than a year ago, the U.S. Senate passed a bi-partisan bill that has been waiting on a House of Representatives vote. But Boehner and others in Republican leadership positions forbid the vote from going forward. Why? Because the bill would pass, and the President would sign it into law. The President will have a success.
Executive action in the short term may indeed have positive consequences, such as cajoling Congress to enter into a compromise for long term immigration reform legislation. If such a consequence was set into action, President Obama happily admits that executive action will be moot, unnecessary and without effect.
On the other hand, executive action, according to Republican threats, may unleash a movement to impeach the President and/or shut down the government by withholding necessary budgetary allocations. Such a result, though, will of course further alienate Hispanic constituencies from the Republican party, particularly when the next presidential election comes around in November, 2016. For all we know though, the Republicans may be calculating that alienating this constituency on the immigration issue is not as consequential as conventional wisdom would lead us to believe.
In the end, it seems that some sort of immigration reform is inevitable. And any new immigration reform legislation that falls short of facilitating the deportation of 12 million undocumented individuals will infuriate a certain percentage of the Republican base. The fury for this Republican faction will for certain will be a new rallying cry for future elections and serve as a pretext to unseat any candidate that voted in favor of rewarding immigration law breakers with legal status in the U.S. – the result which any such immigration legislation necessarily leads to.
PUBLISHED November 13, 2014– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2014, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois