President Obama is said to be considering executive actions that could shield millions of undocumented immigrants in the US from deportation. Republicans have vowed to fight such actions tooth and nail.
United States President Barack Obama may unveil as early as next week executive orders on immigration that could shield as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants living in the US from deportation, according advocates familiar with White House plans.
The executive actions are expected to prevent the deportation of parents and spouses of US citizens and permanent residents who have been living in the United States for several years and allow them to apply for work permits. Advocates say the president may also expand a 2-year-old program called "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals," which has shielded more than 600,000 immigrants from deportation.
President Obama is expected to unveil executive actions on immigration, potentially as soon as next week
President Obama returns to America from his trip to Asia early next week, and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Obama is currently nearing a decision on the potentially explosive issue.
"The President is nearing a final decision," Earnest said. "I would anticipate that the president will receive some final recommendation relatively soon but certainly not before the end of this trip."
'Like waving a red flag before a bull'
Republicans have vowed to fight what they have deemed a potential "executive amnesty," and have pushed for language in government spending bills that expressly bars funding for potential executive orders on immigration.
"If Congress disapproves of the president providing ID cards and [lawful status] for people who've been in the country illegally, they should not appropriate the money to fund it," said Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, a leading opponent of Obama on immigration matters.
Incoming Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has warned Obama against unilateral action on immigration
Senator Mitch McConnell of Tennessee, who will be majority leader beginning in January, said Obama acting unilaterally on immigration would be like "waving a red flag in front of a bull."
President Obama has been under intense pressure from immigrant and Latino advocacy groups to act to change the US immigration system without congressional approval. He has delayed potential executive actions twice, most recently at the request of vulnerable Senate Democrats who viewed unilateral action as politically unpopular in their home states.
"I am going to do what I can do through executive action," Obama said in an interview with US broadcaster CBS News, adding that he believes the US Department of Homeland Security is "deporting people who don't need to be deported."
In addition to far-reaching protection from deportations for millions of undocumented immigrants, Obama's expected executive actions may include higher pay for Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, more resources for border security with Mexico, and more opportunities for immigrants with high-tech skills.
The United States this past summer experienced an unprecedented surge in illegal immigration from young migrants fleeing violence and poverty in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
bw/jm (AP, AFP)