Obama's executive action on immigration: What we know so far

Obama's executive action on immigration: What we know so far

In a prime-time address to the nation Thursday, President Barack Obama will announce his intention to issue an executive action on immigration that sidesteps Congress and could spare as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants living illegally inside the United States from deportation.

"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," Obama said in a video message posted to Facebook.

According to administration sources cited by the New York Times, Associated Press and others, here are some of the things the president is expected to lay out:

• He will likely extend deportation protections to parents and spouses of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for five years.

• Those who are eligible for deportation protection and have no criminal record will be made eligible for work permits, the AP reports. However, they would not have a path to citizenship "and the actions could be reversed by a new president in two years."

• Officials also said the eligible immigrants would not be entitled to federal benefits — including health care tax credits — under Obama's plan. They are also "unlikely to receive public benefits like food stamps, Medicaid coverage or other need-based federal programs offered to citizens and some legal residents," the New York Times reports.

• The president also is likely to expand his 2-year-old program that protects young immigrants, so-called Dreamers, from deportation, waiving the age restrictions on that group. (Under Obama's 2012 program, immigrants under 31 were eligible for protection.) But the expansion will not include parents of those immigrants — something immigration activists have long been pushing for.

• Also left out of Obama's expected measures: Millions of childless immigrants, Reuters reports. According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are an estimated 6.5 million undocumented immigrant adults living in the United States without children.

Administration officials told the Times that the president’s actions were designed to be “legally unassailable." But some Republicans beg to differ.

"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," Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, said Wednesday.

On Monday, Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks raised the specter of impeachment, introducing a bill that would pave the way for the House to take legal action against Obama if he issues an executive order on immigration.

"President Obama knows he lacks legal authority to grant executive amnesty to millions of illegal aliens," Brooks said in a statement. "Yet, in response to special interest group pressures, President Obama says he will grant executive amnesty anyway. President Obama should be held to his own words and bound by the United States Constitution."

But South Carolina's Sen. Lindsey Graham cautioned his GOP colleagues on Capitol Hill not to overreact.

"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."

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman agreed.

"There is no reason to shut down the government over this," Portman said. "It would be bad for the government, bad for the country and playing into his hands in a way."

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