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Presidential Executive Action On Immigration Delayed

By Expert Author: Brooks Richmond

The Obama Administration has confirmed over the weekend that it will delay taking executive action on immigration until midterm elections. The decision is a change of Mr. Obama’s June 30 announcement when he promised a series of new executive actions by the end of this summer to protect immigrant families from deportation.

Following his June 30th statement, major news outlets reported that President Obama’s advisors were preparing a “formal menu of options” for the President to choose from. One of the options included issuing new deportation priority guidelines directing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) to halt deportations of immigrants without serious criminal records. Another option was to expand the Deferred Action program to parents of young people protected under DACA as well as the parents of U.S. citizen children and others with deep family ties to the U.S. The President was also apparently considering a work-around of the three- and ten-year waiting periods for immigrants who have lived in the United States illegally but are applying for permanent legal residence.

The President’s June 30 announcement gave Latino groups and immigrant rights activists reason to celebrate. On August 20, Jose Antonio Vargas, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and nationally renowned undocumented immigrant rights advocate launched a publicity campaign to urge President Obama to grant deferred action for nearly all undocumented immigrants.

However, the “end of summer” promise deadline was cause for concern among Democrats in tight Senate races who feared any new executive action before November would spur conservative voters into action and lead to defeat. If the Democrats lose six Senate seats in November, Republicans will control both chambers of Congress. The announcement also drew criticism from Republicans, and raised the specter of another government shut-down were the President to act before Congress’s deadline to pass a continuing budget resolution before October. So on Saturday, September 6, officials from the White House confirmed that the President will wait until after the November elections before announcing new executive action on immigration. On Sunday’s episode of “Meet the Press,” President Obama explained the delay was to ensure such executive actions would be “sustainable.”

Whatever option the President chooses on immigration, immigrants, attorneys, and advocates should continue to keep a close watch on the news. According to the White House officials, the president is still committed to immigation reform and believe that once the election season is over he will unveil sweeping and sustainable changes to the immigration system. Hopefully, the President will indeed create a broad and inclusive plan that will offer badly needed relief from deportation to the many undocumented immigrants who contribute their hard work to our country.

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