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OBAMA MAKES HIS MOVE ON IMMIGRATION

19 Nov

Emperor Obama tests his executive power

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WASHINGTON (AP) — In a broad test of his executive powers, President Barack Obama declared Wednesday he will sidestep Congress and order his own federal action on immigration — in measures that could spare from deportation as many as 5 million people illegally in the U.S. and set up one of the most pitched partisan confrontations of his presidency.

Obama declared that Washington has allowed America’s immigration problem “to fester for too long.”

The president will use an 8 p.m. EST address Thursday to announce his measures and will sign the executive actions during a rally in Las Vegas on Friday. In doing so, Obama will be taking an aggressive stand that he had once insisted was beyond his presidential power.

As many as 5 million people in the country illegally are likely to be protected from deportation and made eligible for work permits under the plan. They would not have a path to citizenship, however, and the actions could be reversed by a new president in two years. Officials said the eligible immigrants would not be entitled to federal benefits — including health care tax credits — under Obama’s plan.

The 5 million estimate includes extending deportation protections to parents and spouses of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for five years. The president also is likely to expand his 2-year-old program that protects young immigrants from deportation. The administration had considered extending the executive action to parents of young immigrants covered under the 2012 Obama directive, but immigration advocates said they did not expect the parents to be included in the final plan.

“What I’m going to be laying out is the things that I can do with my lawful authority as president to make the system better, even as I continue to work with Congress and encourage them to get a bipartisan, comprehensive bill that can solve the entire problem,” Obama said in a video on Facebook.

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Laying the groundwork for his actions, Obama invited 18 Democratic members of the House and Senate — but no Republicans — to dinner at the White House on Wednesday. Among the networks airing his Thursday speech will be Univision, which will interrupt the Latin Grammys to carry his remarks, assuring him a huge Spanish-speaking audience. The major broadcast networks — ABC, CBS and NBC — were not planning to air the speech, but cable news networks were.

Obama is to speak at Las Vegas’ Del Sol High School on Friday, a school with a large population of non-English speaking students where Obama unveiled his blueprint for comprehensive immigration legislation in 2013.

Republicans vehemently oppose the president’s likely actions but are deeply divided and have spent much of the week intensely debating how to respond. Some conservative members have threatened to pursue a government shutdown and one — two-term Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama — raised the specter of impeachment on Wednesday.

House Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman criticized Obama’s planned announcement, noting that the president himself had said in the past that he was not “emperor” and was limited in his ability to act.

“If ‘Emperor Obama’ ignores the American people and announces an amnesty plan that he himself has said over and over again exceeds his constitutional authority, he will cement his legacy of lawlessness and ruin the chances for congressional action on this issue — and many others,” the spokesman, Michael Steel, said.

A wide-ranging immigration bill passed the Senate last year, but stalled in the Republican-led House. Senate Democratic leaders on Wednesday took turns declaring their support for Obama’s unilateral action, blaming Republican inaction for forcing Obama to act.

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“There’s one more chance: Just put the bill on the floor, Speaker Boehner,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., a lead author of the bill that passed the Senate. “Pass the bill and we will not even have to debate executive action.”

Even Republicans who supported the Senate bill that would have overhauled immigration laws said Obama’s go-it-alone approach would backfire. Still, they cautioned their party colleagues not to overreach in their response.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who worked on the Senate legislation, said the executive actions would leave the status of millions of immigrants unresolved and would not address what he called a broken immigration system.

“Our response has to be measured — can’t capitulate, can’t overreact,” he said. “Impeachment or shutting down the entire government would be an unwise move.”

Adjustments also are expected to a 2012 program that allowed immigrants under 31 who had arrived before June 2007 to apply for a reprieve from deportation and a work permit. More than 600,000 young immigrants have been shielded from deportation to date under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Removing the upper age limit so that applicants don’t have to be under 31 — one option under consideration — would make an additional 200,000 people eligible.

In one specific example, about 250,000 farm workers in the United States illegally would receive work permits under Obama’s actions, according to Giev Kashkooli, the national political legislative director of the United Farm Workers who met with White House officials and with Obama on Wednesday. The UFW had been hoping for a specific program that would provide work permits to more farm workers.

The 250,000 farm workers would be eligible by being parents of children who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

The beneficiaries of Obama’s new executive action would be treated in the same manner as those immigrants who were shielded from deportation in his 2012 directive, according to one official who discussed the limits of Obama’s action on the condition of anonymity, lacking authority to speak on the record at this point.

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Those young immigrants covered by the 2012 action can obtain work permits but are not eligible for food stamps, federal welfare benefits or disability benefits under the Supplemental Security Income program. They also are ineligible for tax credits under Obama’s health care law, though they can buy health coverage at full price on the exchanges created by the law. They may be eligible for public benefits provided by some states.

OBAMA’S DEPORTATION POLICY LEAVES MOST ILLEGALS UNTOUCHED

19 Oct

95 percent of deported illegals were criminals

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– The Washington Times – Thursday, October 16, 2014

President Obama has generally kept true to his vow to deport only criminals and repeat immigration violators, according to a new report Thursday from the Migration Policy Institute that undercuts many of the fears immigrant rights advocates have about the severity of his policies.

MPI said that 95 percent of the immigrants deported from 2009 to 2013 met Mr. Obama’s stated national security priorities for deportations, meaning only about 77,000 of the 1.6 million illegal immigrants removed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) over the last five years were rank-and-file border-crossers with clean records.

Mr. Obama has pledged to try to refine his deportation policies later this year, but the MPI study, said he’ll have to make major changes such as carving out exceptions for substantial categories of illegal immigrants if he’s to make a dent in his deportation figures.

That’s because Mr. Obama has already placed most rank-and-file illegal immigrants living in the interior of the U.S. out of any danger for deportations, the MPI report concluded.

“In effect, the Obama administration has shifted from a more generalized model of enforcement to a model focused almost exclusively on illegal border crossers, obstructionists and criminals,” the MPI said.

But the report also said it is unfair to describe it as a major shift, since even under President George W. Bush, 91 percent of deportations were of criminals, repeat-immigration violators or recent border crossers. Under Mr. Obama, that’s risen to 95 percent.

The MPI researchers said Mr. Obama has arguably added to the illegal immigrant population by nearly eliminating the risk that most illegal immigrants will be deported. The researchers said, however, that Mr. Obama’s policies could be deemed more “humane.”

“To randomly remove noncitizens who fall outside the scope of stated enforcement priorities and to purposely create a climate of fear and uncertainty competes with the effort to make enforcement more humane,” the researchers said.

While Mr. Obama has mostly kept his vow to only deport “priority” immigrants with criminal records, he has fallen short in overall deportations, according to statistics released Wednesday by the Center for Immigration Studies, which said in fiscal year 2014 ICE was projected to only deport about 312,000 immigrants.

That’s a drop of about 25 percent from the total that ICE has said it has the funding to deport each year.

ICE officials have countered that some deportations cost more than others, which might account for the steep drop.

The Center for Immigration Studies report also concluded that in fiscal year 2014, which ended Sept. 30, ICE agents encountered 585,000 potentially deportable immigrants, but released 442,000 of them without ever bothering to even try to deport them.

“Catch and release policies continue,” concluded Jessica Vaughn, the report’s author.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

OBAMA PLOTS IMMIGRATION REFORM BY PEN AND PHONE

28 Aug

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is crafting a blame-it-on-Congress legal justification to back up President Barack Obama’s impending executive actions on immigration.

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Facing an expected onslaught of opposition, the administration plans to argue that Congress failed to provide enough resources to fully enforce U.S. laws, thereby ceding wide latitude to White House to prioritize deportations of the 11.5 million people who are in the country illegally, administration officials and legal experts said. But Republicans, too, are exploring their legal options for stopping Obama from what they’ve deemed egregious presidential overreaching.

A self-imposed, end-of-summer deadline to act on immigration is rapidly approaching. While Obama has yet to receive the formal recommendations he’s requested from Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, administration officials said the president is intimately familiar with the universe of options and won’t spend much time deliberating once Johnson delivers his recommendations.

After resisting calls to act alone in hopes Congress would pass a comprehensive immigration fix, Obama in June bowed to immigration activists and said that “if Congress will not do their job, at least we can do ours.” The most sweeping, controversial step under consideration involves halting deportation for millions, a major expansion of a 2012 Obama program that deferred prosecutions for those brought here illegally as children.

Roughly half a million have benefited from that program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA.

But while prosecutors are routinely expected to use their discretion on a case-by-case basis, such blanket exempting of entire categories of people has never been done on the scale of what Obama is considering — potentially involving many millions of people if he extends relief to parents of DACA children, close relatives of U.S. citizens or immigrants with clean criminal records.

“The question is how broadly can the president extend the categories and still stay on the side of spectrum of ensuring the laws are faithfully executed?” said Cristina Rodriguez, who left the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in 2013 to teach at Yale Law School.

Other options under consideration, such as changes to how green cards are distributed and counted, might be less controversial because of the support they enjoy from the business community and other influential groups. But Derrick Morgan, a former adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney and a scholar at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said Obama will still face staunch opposition as long as he attempts an end run around Congress.

Obama’s goal had been to announce his decision around Labor Day, before leaving on a trip next week to Estonia and Wales. But a host of national security crises have pushed the announcement back, likely until after Obama returns, said the officials, who weren’t authorized to comment by name and demanded anonymity.

Obama’s actions will almost surely be challenged in court.

“Any potential executive action the president takes will be rooted in a solid legal foundation,” White House spokesman Shawn Turner said.

What’s more, Obama may have undermined his case because he has insisted time and again that he’s the president, not the king, and “can’t just make the laws up by myself.” In a 2012 interview with Telemundo, Obama defended his decision to defer deportations for children but said he couldn’t go any bigger.

“If we start broadening that, then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally. So that’s not an option,” he said then.

Republicans are already hinting that they’ll consider legal action to thwart what they’ve denounced as a violation of the separation of powers. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in a conference call this month with GOP House members, accused Obama of “threatening to rewrite our immigration laws unilaterally.”

“If the president fails to faithfully execute the laws of our country, we will hold him accountable,” Boehner said, according to an individual who participated in the call.

The House already has passed legislation to block Obama from expanding DACA and, through its power of the purse, could attempt to cut off the funds that would be needed to implement the expansion. House Republicans could also consider widening or amending their existing lawsuit against Obama over his health care law, a case that both parties have suggested could be a prelude to impeachment proceedings.

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