President Obama Likely to Exercise Executive Power to Help Immigrants in Wake of Congressional Inaction

With Congress now in a 5 week recess deadlocked on immigration reform, President Obama may soon take matters into his own hands and issue an Executive Order. In our previous post from July, we cited that Obama had already put gears in motion by directing Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder to start identifying actions that could be taken to try and mend as much of the immigration system as possible within the scope of the President’s executive power and thus circumventing House approval.When asked about a possible timeline for the issuance of such orders White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, told reporters last week that “the timeframe for that review is the end of the summer and the President expects to carefully consider their review and act on it relatively quickly.” This brings hope to many immigrants across the country as well as their children and families, many of which are U.S. citizens.While the White house has not commented on what actions the President may take, reports suggest a wide range of options including a likely expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program which has suspended deportation and provided work authorization for slightly more than 500,000 of “Dreamers.” Immigrants’ Rights groups have requested that the President expand the policy to families of Dreamers as well as other immigrants who have been in the United States for a substantial time period who have paid taxes and have no criminal history.Another option would be to expand the availability of parole-in-place authority in order to ease the path to residency for spouses of U.S. citizens. Currently, spouses of U.S. citizens who failed to enter the U.S. with a valid visa are not eligible to obtain legal status in the United States due to the violation of their entrance into the US without inspection. However, allowing spouses of U.S. citizens the ability to receive parole within the United States provided they met certain criteria (for example, no criminal history but evidence of steady employment and payment of taxes) would promote family unity and allow a path to legal residency for worthy immigrants.With action expected from the President or Congress before the end of the summer, stay tuned to our website for updates on these key issues.