With immigration legislation at a standstill in Congress and the Senate, President Obama is planning to go the executive action route before the November midterm elections.
One possibility that has been raised, according to an Associated Press report, is granting work papers to parents and guardians of legal US citizens which would cover thousands of Irish parents with American citizen children.
There are currently an estimated 50,000 Irish people living in the country illegally, out of an estimated 11.5 million undocumented.
The U.S. remains one of the few countries in the world to offer unrestricted citizenship to all children born within its borders even if the parents are undocumented.
According to a recent report by the Associated Press, advocates and lawmakers in touch with the Obama administration say that the White House is creating a plan of executive action to grant work permits to “potentially millions of immigrants who are in this country illegally, allowing them to stay in the United States without threat of deportation.”
Obama last took executive action on immigration reform in 2012, with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which granted work authorization for and prosecutorial discretion regarding undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as very young children and remain here illegally.
A group of officials led by White House Counsel Neil Eggleston, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Domestic Policy Council Director Celia Munoz have been meeting with immigration officials, interest groups, religious leaders and law enforcement officials as they weigh the different executive actions the president could take.
The AP reports that many immigration advocates would like to see the DACA action expanded to include all undocumented who would have eventually been eligible for citizenship under S.744, last year’s comprehensive immigration reform bill that was passed by the Senate but stalled in the House.
However, an estimated 9 million people fall under that category – too great a population to address with one executive action. Instead, attention is being paid to smaller subsets of the undocumented who may be able to benefit.
Two possible groups under consideration are the parents and legal guardians of US citizens – estimated at 3.8 million people – and the parents/legal guardians of children who are protected under DACA, believed to be between 500,000 and 1 million people, according to research conducted by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement.
“Our parents deserve to live without the fear of deportation,” Maria Praeli, a 21-year-old from New Haven, CT who came to the United States from Peru 16 years ago, told an AP reporter at a protest outside the White House on Monday.
“It is time for the president to go big and to go bold.”
On Wednesday of this week, the Republican House authorized a lawsuit against President Obama for multiple cases of “executive overreach,” particularly in connection with the Affordable Care Act.
On Thursday, after Congress failed to vote through a $659 million emergency spending measure to address the child migrant crisis at the US-Mexico border before departing for the August recess, House Republican leaders John Boehner (R-OH), Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Steve Scalise (R-LA), and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) issued a statement criticizing the president for not taking executive action on the border issue.
It read: “There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action, to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries.”