This week, President Obama concluded that the House would not act on immigration reform this year, leading him to announce that he would use his executive authority to fix what he could of the immigration system on his own. This is a welcome decision, although details of his plans are unlikely to unfold until later in the summer, following consultation with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder. There are no shortage of suggestions, however, about how the president can improve the current system, starting with a revision of current enforcement policies and expanding to include more permanent and temporary relief from removal. A timely new analysis from the Center for American Progress makes the case that the president should “go big,” implementing policies and programs that help the maximum number of people.
The CAP report delves into the background and legal authority for using executive branch authority in the context of immigration enforcement, noting that we have been down this road before. “As the Congressional Research Service has illustrated, categorical grants of affirmative relief to non-citizens have been made 21 times by six presidents protecting millions of immigrants just since 1976. What’s more, in many instances, Congress was actively considering legislation that would have provided relief to the groups of people protected by the executive action. That, of course, is precisely the case today.” Continue reading