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Obama Administration Working on Immigration Reform Executive Action

First Posted: Aug 20, 2014 09:11 AM EDT

President Barack Obama said earlier this month it was his "preference" to work with Congress regarding immigration but added, "I promise you the American people don't want me just standing around twiddling my thumbs and waiting for Congress to get something done." He said he would make choices in how to allocate personel and resources.

The Senate did introduce immigration reform legislation, which passed in June. The Republicans introduced their owns bills, HR 5230, a border supplemental bill with language making it easier to deport Central American children, and HR 5272 which would have ended the President's initiative of temporary protection of additional DREAMers and other migrants. Those bills passed just before the August recess but they will be unacceptable to the Senate after Congress reconvenes. Meanwhile, the Obama Administration has been responding to pressure from businesses and immigration activists for possible executive actions. 

"Cecilia Munoz, Mr. Obama's top immigration adviser, has led meetings attended by White House political aids and lawyers to hear from other interest groups, individual companies and business groups about what executive actions they believe the president should take on immigration," according to The New York Times

There are a number of reforms being considered: increasing the number of skilled foreign workers that can come to the U.S. excluding spouses from the 140,000-per-year-visa cap, an idea put forward by high tech firms; reusing "green" cards, deferring deportations from 500,000 to 4.4 million immigrants in the US illegally, as well as providing some with work permits; an expansion of the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals; and temporary relief for law-abiding undocumented immigrants who are closely related to U.S. citizens or those who have lived in the country a certain number of years.

But the Obama administration is limited in what it can do by resources allocated by Congress. 

"The Impoundment Control Act requires the executive branch to spend the money appropriated by Congress toward the purpose designated by Congress. Congress has appropriated enough funds to deport about 400,000 people a year. The administration deported nearly 370,000 undocumented immigrants last year," reported Business Insider.

The Obama Administration is expected to make a decision on how to proceed by the end of the summer.

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