Sun | Jul 23, 2017

Obama mulls large-scale move on immigration

Published:Wednesday | July 30, 2014 | 7:00 AM
Guatemala's President Otto Perez Molina (left) and Honduran President Juan Hernandez (right) listen as US President Barack Obama speaks to the media, after they met to discuss Central American immigration and the border crisis. - AP

WASHINGTON (AP):

Even as they grapple with an immigration crisis at the Mexican border, White House officials are making plans to act before November's elections to grant work permits to potentially millions of immigrants who are in the US illegally, allowing them to stay in the United States without threat of deportation, according to advocates and lawmakers in touch with the administration.

Such a large-scale move on immigration could scramble election-year politics and lead some conservative Republicans to push for impeachment proceedings against President Barack Obama, a prospect White House officials have openly discussed.

Yet there is little sign that the urgent humanitarian situation in South Texas, where unaccompanied minors have been showing up by the tens of thousands from Central America, has impeded Obama from making plans to address some portion of the 11.5 million immigrants now in this country illegally. Obama announced late last month that congressional efforts to remake the nation's dysfunctional immigration system were dead and he would proceed on his own authority to fix the system where he could.

$3.7 BILLION REQUEST

Since then he's asked Congress for $3.7 billion to deal with the crisis of unaccompanied youths, a request that's gone unmet even as the House and the Senate scramble to see if they can vote on some solution to the crisis this week before adjourning for their annual August recess.

Meanwhile, White House officials led by Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Munoz and White House Counsel Neil Eggleston, along with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, have been working to chart a plan on executive actions Obama could take, hosting frequent meetings with interest groups and listening to recommendations from immigration advocates, law-enforcement officials, religious leaders, Hispanic lawmakers and others.

Advocates and lawmakers who were in separate meetings Friday, said that administration officials are weighing a range of options including reforms to the deportation system and ways to grant relief from deportation to targeted populations in the country, likely by expanding Obama's two-year-old directive that granted work permits to certain immigrants brought here illegally as youths. That programme, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, has been extended to more than 500,000 immigrants so far.