As the tension continues to grow between the president and Republican lawmakers, the White House has shown no further signs of backing down. The call for reform continues from the public at large, and the millions of immigrants waiting relief. Now, after months of putting off any official announcement, news sources have reported that President Barack Obama will unveil his immigration plan as early as next week.
Fox News has reported that Obama will announce his 10-part plan for an immigration policy overhaul as early as next Friday. Citing a source close to the White House,a draft proposal from a governmental agency contained the president's plans, pending final presidential approval. Obama was apparently briefed by Homeland Security before his Asia-Pacific trip. However, the official word from White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest is that the president had not made a final decision on any executive action.
The reported draft plan will contain 10 parts, to cover everything from increasing border security, to improving compensation for immigration officials. However, in what will likely be the most controversial part, the plan contains an initiative to expand deferred action. This move has been anticipated by many, waiting to see how broad of a group deferred action would cover. Deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) is already in place, but the new plan will include parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents as well, which could amount to millions of immigrants.
In addition, DACA's parameters may be expanded to include anyone who entered the U.S. before age 16, up until January 1, 2010. Currently, the law provides for deferred action for those under 31 as of June 2012, who came into the U.S. before June 2007. This change could affect as many as 300,000 immigrants.
Immigrant activists and Democrats are urging action before the new Republican majority takes over. Democratic Representative from California, Juan Vargas said, “we're begging the president. Go big.” House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer joins in this support, “what he needs to do is give immediate relief to families who are being wrenched apart and living in fear.”
Republicans have warned that presidential executive action is akin to playing with matches, and that a unilateral move towards immigration reform will “poison the well.” The warnings appear to have had little effect. With the word out that the president will announce his plans next week, Republicans are facing the reality that immigration reform through executive action may soon become a reality they will have to deal with.
If the move comes before a December 11th new spending deadline, the immigration debate will be forced into the budget process. Opponents are arguing that executive action to reform immigration is outside the president's authority. Once Obama makes the official announcement, this battle between and amongst the political parties may just be getting started. Republican Representative Matt Salmon, of the 5th District of Arizona, is calling for defunding what he has called, “the President's reported intentions to create work permits and green cards for undocumented immigrants currently in the United States.”