The first big battle between President Obama and the Republican-controlled Congress in the wake of the midterm elections will, in all likelihood, take place over immigration. With Obama pledging to enact a series of executive orders, and emboldened GOP Congressional leaders warning him not to, the scene has been set for a monumental clash.
Since Republicans seized control of the U.S. Senate with a string of victories nationwide, Obama has reiterated his intention to make good on a promise to take unilateral action on new immigration reforms, and he did so again on Sunday.
"I’d prefer and still prefer to see it done through Congress," Obama said in an interview with CBS' "Face the Nation." "But every day that I wait, we’re misallocating resources, we’re deporting people that shouldn’t be deported, we’re not deporting folks that are dangerous and need to be deported."
In his remarks, Obama tipped his hand as to what his executive orders might include. Here's a rundown of what the president is hinting at changing.
By using an executive order, Obama could direct the Department of Homeland Security to prioritize the deportation of those people it deems a serious threat to the United States, such as drug dealers, violent felons, and gang members. While the order would not legalize anyone who has not committed a serious crime (though many conservatives argue that entering the country illegally constitutes just that), it would effectively mean that the bulk of undocumented immigrants would not face the same scrutiny.
"People that shouldn't be deported"
The president is considering whether to allow upwards of 5 million undocumented immigrants to stay in the country temporarily without fear of deportation, sources familiar with the plan have told the Washington Post. In this executive order scenario, the immigrants could be allowed to apply for work authorization, a stop-gap measure similar to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program the president put in place in 2012.
Whatever Obama chooses to do in the short term, however, Congress will ultimately have to decide whether to pass a law to deal with permanent immigration reform.