|September 2, 2014|
Previously published on August 29, 2014
President Obama may be getting ready to drop a political nuclear bomb just months before the 2014 mid-term elections. The Obama administration is considering unilateral executive action on immigration—with action coming as early as next week.
President Obama has yet to receive formal recommendations on changes to immigration policy from Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, but White House lawyers are already crafting the legal rationale for unilateral executive action.
White House lawyers are likely to make the case that not only has Congress failed to fix the broken immigration system, but they also haven’t even provided the necessary resources to enforce the laws Congress has already passed on the subject. This dereliction of duty by Congress—so the argument goes—gives the president the ability to step in and prioritize which individuals here illegally should be sent home and which should be able to stay.
President Obama is said to be considering several different options, the most controversial of which, would be an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that would result in halting the deportation of millions.
The expansion would provide blanket exemptions for not only children but also for parents and close relatives of U.S. citizens or immigrants with no criminal record.
The House already has passed legislation to block President Obama from expanding this program and, through its power of the purse, could attempt to cut off the funds that would be needed to implement the expansion.
President Obama may act despite opposition from several endangered Sen. Democrats. Red state Democrats like Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), Sen. Kay Hagan (R-NC) and Sen. Mary Landrieu (R-LA) could all be hurt by this move that is sure to galvanize the GOP base and all three of them have spoken out against unilateral executive action.