WASHINGTON — In the boldest move on immigration policy of his presidency, President Barack Obama announced plans Thursday evening to dramatically increase deportation relief for an estimated 4.4 million undocumented immigrants. The executive action will protect parents, as well as those who came to the U.S. as children and others with long-standing ties to the country, from being forced out of their homes.
Obama defended the move in a primetime address, saying “the real amnesty [is] leaving this broken system the way it is.”
“Mass amnesty would be unfair. Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character,” he said. “What I’m describing is accountability – a commonsense, middle ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.”
The announcement will cause mayhem on the Hill, as Republicans threaten lawsuits, a showdown over funding the government, and blocks to Obama’s nominees.
”We’re considering a variety of options,” incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor Thursday morning. “But make no mistake. When the newly elected representatives of the people take their seats, they will act.”
Obama’s plan will make a number of changes to immigration policy, such as renaming and revamping the controversial Secure Communities policy, which states and localities across the country have increasingly opposed. It will also redefine Immigration and Customs Enforcement priorities to ensure agents are focusing on recent border-crossers — defined as those who came after Jan. 1, 2014 — along with convicted criminals, suspected terrorists and potential threats to national security. The new policies broaden opportunities for high-skilled workers and could lead to further changes in how visas are distributed. The resulting changes could bring the amount of people given legal protection under the executive action to nearly 5 million…. see more