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Obama’s immigration plan: 10 executive actions being weighed by the president

President Obama is gearing up to announce a 10-point plan to overhaul U.S. immigration policy via executive action, according to a draft proposal.

As reported Wednesday by Fox News, a source says the president is expected to make his move as early as next week.

Already, word that Obama is planning to go around Congress has riled Republican lawmakers, who continue to urge him not to take that step.

“We’re going to fight the president tooth-and-nail if this is the path he wants to take,” House Speaker John Boehner vowed on Thursday.

While the White House says Obama has not made a final decision, spokesman Josh Earnest made clear he will act soon.

Obama repeated the commitment to a plan Friday at a press conference in Burma. He said he plans on acting by the end of the year. Obama said yet again if Congress passes an extensive reform bill, he’ll nullify any executive actions.

The 10 points of the draft plan are:

Expand ‘deferred action’ for young illegal immigrants

This would expand a major step taken by Obama in June 2012.In June 2012, Obama offered a deportation reprieve – a.k.a., deferred action — for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, entered before June 2007 and were under 31 as of June 2012.

The change would expand that to cover anyone who entered before they were 16, and change the cut-off from June 2007 to Jan. 1, 2010. This is estimated to make nearly 300,000 illegal immigrants eligible.

Expand ‘deferred action’ for parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents

This would significantly expand the above program by also giving a reprieve to illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. for more than five years and have children who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.

This could allow upwards of 4.5 million illegal immigrant adults to stay, according to estimates.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., voiced concerns, though, that illegal immigrants could simply fib in order to meet the criteria for this program. Further, he said millions more people would then be “entitled” to U.S. privileges including health care.

Regarding the proposed expansions, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton told Fox News this amounts to a direction from the White House “not to enforce the law.”

“If experience is any guide, it will lead to one of the greatest mass migrations in history,” he said.

Immigrant advocates, though, have argued that deferred action has been used plenty of times before, and that it is needed to help undocumented immigrants come out of the shadows.

Prioritize deportations for serious criminals

This would be a Department of Homeland Security-wide enforcement policy to prioritize deportations for serious criminals and other individuals deemed a threat – including gang members.

The department already does this to some extent. Though critics say the prioritization so far still allows criminals to skirt deportation, House Democrats backed this approach in a letter to the president on Thursday urging executive action.

“Our national security suffers whenever we spend precious enforcement resources on hardworking immigrant families, rather than on criminals and those who mean our communities harm,” they wrote.

End ‘Secure Communities’ and start a new program

This would discontinue the so-called “Secure Communities” program. Under this program, the FBI has taken fingerprint information that it gets from local jails and checks it against immigration databases. Immigration and Customs Enforcement can then pursue deportation for any illegal immigrants who have a serious record or are otherwise deemed a threat.

Hundreds of thousands of “criminal aliens” have been deported this way.

However, while federal immigration officials consider this program a helpful enforcement tool, Secure Communities has been controversial and some local jurisdictions have refused to participate. The plan calls for replacing this with another, unspecified program.

Boost pay for ICE officers

This calls for a pay raise for Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, to “increase morale.” Earlier this year, the National ICE Council – the union representing ICE workers – called for more funding for the agency. It’s unclear whether pay raises would address the union’s deeper concerns about the administration’s immigration policies.

Expand high-tech visas

The plan calls for working with the State Department to expand visas for foreign-born workers with high-tech skills, to support U.S. businesses. This is projected to offer another half-million immigrants a path to citizenship. Groups like the Chamber of Commerce have been calling for more of these visas – but Sen. Sessions has argued that the priority should be getting U.S. citizens back to work.

Strengthen border security

The plan would commit additional resources to the U.S.-Mexico border to deal with illegal immigrant traffic, partly in response to the surge over the summer of undocumented children from Central America.

Border security has been a priority for Republican lawmakers, who want to see the border secured before considering a pathway to legal status for illegal immigrants who already are in the U.S.

Expand provisional waivers to spouses and children of legal permanent residents

This would expand a provisional waiver program announced in January 2013 for undocumented spouses and children of permanent residents and U.S. citizens. The waiver lets them stay in the country – the plan calls for an expansion, though the details are unclear.

Expand ‘parole’

The government currently allows “parole” for illegal immigrant relatives and spouses of U.S. military members – effectively letting them stay on “parole” status if they’re already in the country. The proposed change would expand the program for illegal immigrants whose children are citizens.

Promote the naturalization process

Currently, the naturalization fee is $680. To encourage people to begin the citizenship process, DHS would take 50 percent off the fee for the first 10,000 applicants.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report.


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Obama seeks support for immigration plan, blasts Boehner

By Steve Holland

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – President Barack Obama defended his decision to bypass Congress and overhaul U.S. immigration policy on his own on Friday, saying he was forced to act because House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner would not let legislation come to a vote.

With many Americans skeptical of his decision to bypass Congress and impose an immigration overhaul unilaterally, Obama attempted to rally support for his move in a speech at a Las Vegas high school, saying illegal immigrants need a chance to come out of the shadows.

He engaged in a cross-country debate with Boehner, the top U.S. Republican, who accused Obama in Washington of sabotaging chances for bipartisan legislation and vowed to lead a fight to block his executive actions.

In the summer of 2013, the Democratic-run Senate passed compromise immigration legislation but the bill died in the Republican-controlled House. Obama said he waited to see if the House would ever pass the legislation, but Boehner would not let it come to a vote.

“I told John Boehner, ‘I’ll wash your car, walk your dog, whatever you need to do, just call the bill,” Obama said. “And he didn’t do it.”

To those lawmakers who feel he overstepped his constitutional authority, Obama said his message to them is: “Pass the bill.”

Obama’s move threatens to herald a new round of partisan gridlock in Washington as Republicans who will control both chambers of Congress in January react with scorn to his decision.

Republicans remain split on the best course of resistance to Obama’s action easing the threat of deportation for some 4.7 million undocumented immigrants. Conservative groups were already pulling together legal strategies to challenge it.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) denouncesnbsp;hellip;

“With this action, the president has chosen to deliberately sabotage any chance of enacting bipartisan reforms that he claims to seek. And as I told the president yesterday, he’s damaging the presidency itself,” Boehner told reporters.

“We’re working with our members and looking at the options available to us,” he said. “But I will say to you, the House will, in fact, act.”

Obama received a rousing welcome from a largely Latino audience at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, the same place he visited just after beginning his second term in 2013, when he laid out his principles for immigration reform.

“Si se puede,” they chanted.

A heckler shouted at Obama that his order did not go far enough. Obama engaged him from across the high school gym.

“I’ve heard you, young man, I’ve heard you. But what I’m saying is that this is just a first step,” Obama told him.

Outside, a couple of dozen protesters who opposed his actions shouted slogans and held up signs that said: “Stop Obama Amnesty.”

Before getting off Air Force One shortly after landing in Las Vegas, Obama signed two presidential memoranda to set in motion part of the biggest U.S. immigration changes in a decade.

Just hours after his speech on Thursday night, Republicans launched a long-threatened lawsuit against the administration on another topic, accusing it of abusing executive authority through implementation of the president’s “Obamacare” health reform law.

Republicans have said in recent weeks they would consider adding a challenge to the Obama immigration order to the healthcare lawsuit.

But the most prominent strategy under consideration, supported by many conservatives in Congress, is to withhold funds for implementation of the immigration order from a major spending bill needed to fund the government by Dec. 11.

A fight over the spending bill could lead to another shutdown of federal agencies, one year after a 16-day closure that inflicted heavy political damage on Republicans.

“We do need to find a way to really push back,” Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who has called for using the spending bill as a vehicle to challenge the order, said at the Heritage Foundation.

Other Republicans have suggested a range of options, from opposing all of Obama’s nominees unless he relents, to stand-alone legislation undoing the order and even impeachment.

(Additional reporting by Emily Stephenson, David Lawder and Amanda Becker in Washington; Editing by John Whitesides and Tom Brown)

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Immigration debacle at feet of John Boehner

President Obama yesterday, speaking in a high school in Las Vegas, placed the full blame of the US immigration policy impasse at the feet of one person,  Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, the man who could have allowed our democratic legislative institutions to work as intended with a simple declaration: “Let the vote take place.”

I echo comments by my colleague Michael Sean Winters in a recent blog post:

More to the point, if Speaker John Boehner cared more about the millions of people who are directly harmed by our country’s broken immigration system than he is about losing support within his own caucus, he would bring the Senate-passed immigration bill up for a vote tomorrow and the President’s actions would become moot. Whatever my problems with Obama, on this issue or any other, there is no moral equivalence. The Speaker and his caucus are the problem. They can huff and they can puff but they can’t blow down the moral argument for bringing comprehensive immigration reform up for a vote. They have no moral authority on this issue until they do so.

This report from today’s New York Times provides a summary look. It reads in part:

Obama’s decision to act unilaterally on immigration, announced in a prime-time address on Thursday night, came after months of congressional gridlock, in which the broad immigration overhaul that passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support died in the Republican-controlled House.

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On Friday, the president said he had no choice but to act on his own.

“It has now been 512 days, a year and a half, in which the only thing standing in the way of that bipartisan bill and my desk, so I can sign the bill, is a simple yes or no vote in the House of Representatives,” Mr. Obama told the enthusiastic crowd. 

The president said that he had repeatedly urged Mr. Boehner to let the Senate bill come to a vote on the floor of the House, but to no avail. He said that he believed the Senate bill would have passed in the House if Mr. Boehner had let the full membership vote.

“I cajoled, and I called, and I met,” Mr. Obama said. “I told John Boehner I would — ‘Yeah, I’ll wash your car, I’ll walk your dog. Whatever you need to do, just call the bill.’ That’s how democracy is supposed to work. And if the votes hadn’t been there, then we would have had to start over, but at least give it a shot. And he didn’t do it.”

I especially like the washing of the car bit. The president sent a not so veiled message: “Yessir. I totally understand.”


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John Boehner: On Immigration, Obama ‘Damaging The Presidency Itself’

House Speaker John Boehner accused President Obama of “damaging the presidency itself” through his executive actions on immigration.

“With this action, the president has chosen to deliberately sabotage any chance of enacting bipartisan reforms that he claims to seek,” Boehner said Friday. “And as I told him yesterday, he’s damaging the presidency itself.”

Obama on Thursday night unveiled his plan to allow certain groups of undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. legally on a temporary basis.

Boehner issued a preemptive critique on his YouTube channel.

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Since winning substantial majorities in both houses of Congress earlier this month, Republicans have been warning that such an action would invite political discord.

“In the days ahead, the people’s House will rise to the challenge,” Boehner said. “We will not stand idle as the president undermines the rule of law in our country and places lives at risk.”

Speaking in Las Vegas Friday, Obama pushed back against that criticism. He pointed to the Senate-passed bill that did not come up for a vote in the House.

“I told John Boehner, ‘I’ll wash your car, walk your dog, whatever you need to do, just call the bill,” Obama said, according to Reuters. “And he didn’t do it.”

The president also repeated his call to legislators to “pass a bill” if they did not like his actions, and pledged to “keep on working with members of Congress” for a permanent reform bill.

Republicans have yet to agree on a path forward. Some had argued that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is responsible for enforcing President Obama’s plan, should be defunded. But on Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee said that the agency is funded by fees and therefore outside the congressional budgeting process.

“We’re working with our members and looking at the options available to us,” Boehner told reporters. “But I will say to you, the House will, in fact, act.”

Some Republicans called for a strong response, including Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions.

“The president is the one who is acting provocatively, not the Congress,” Sessions told the New York Times. “The last thing this Congress wants to do is have this kind of fight, but at some point the institution has to defend itself.”

Some GOP legislators have argued that Obama’s immigration actions are so constitutionally problematic that they deserve an official rebuke or threats to shut down the government if the White House does not relent. Also on Friday, House Republicans filed a lawsuit against the president for overreaching in implementing Obamacare.

But despite Boehner’s contention that Obama has “damaged the presidency” and carelessly flouted the rule of law with his immigration actions, House Republicans are unlikely to move on any path forward until they return from their weeklong Thanksgiving break.

This article was written for Business 2 Community by Gene Giannotta.
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John Boehner: ‘We will not stand idle’ on immigration

WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner declared Friday that President Barack Obama was “damaging the presidency” with his unilateral action on immigration. He said the Republican-run House will not stand by, but gave no hint of what the response would be.

“I will say to you, the House will, in fact, act,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said at a news conference the morning after Obama announced plans to offer deportation relief and work permits to 5 million immigrants who are in the country illegally.

“We will listen to the American people, we will work with our members and we will work to protect the Constitution of the United States,” Boehner said.

But Republicans have few good options as they scramble for a solution that satisfies irate conservatives without alienating moderates, Hispanics and other voters who will be crucial for the 2016 presidential election. Possibilities include suing Obama or trying to fight his moves through the budget process.

The situation poses a major challenge for Boehner and incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., barely two weeks after midterm election victories that handed Republicans control of the Senate and increased the party’s majority in the House.

Obama’s move forces them to inaugurate their newly minted congressional majorities amid frantic GOP infighting that party leaders wanted to avoid. With Republicans seething over Obama’s go-it-alone approach on such a contentious issue, it’s an open question whether Boehner and McConnell will be able to rein in the tea party faction in Congress that forced a politically damaging government shutdown a year ago over the president’s health care law.

The answer will have major implications in determining whether the GOP can hang onto its newfound control of Congress and hope to win the White House in two years.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., one of the fiercest opponents of Obama’s actions, ruled out impeachment, telling the conservative Heritage Foundation, “we are not going to impeach or move to impeach.” Sessions did insist that the Congress can use its power over spending to affect the immigration initiative.

“What did the president do? He pulled the pin on the grenade two weeks after the election,” said Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, a Boehner ally. “I don’t think anybody knows or can predict what happens and the carnage that this creates quite frankly for the legislative process.”

Boehner took issue with Obama’s claim that he had to act because House Republicans never moved on the bipartisan immigration bill that passed the Senate last year. That measure offered a path to citizenship for many of the 11 million immigrants here illegally, going further than Obama can on his own.

Boehner said it was Obama’s fault because lawmakers didn’t trust him after earlier unilateral moves on health care.

“He created an environment where the members would not trust him, and trying to find a way to work together was virtually impossible,” Boehner said. “I warned the president over and over that his actions were making it impossible for me to do what he wanted me to do.”

Conservative lawmakers are pushing to insert language in upcoming must-pass spending bills to block Obama’s order. Party leaders warn that could lead to a government shutdown.

The chairman of the House Appropriations Chairman, Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., also argues it is impossible to “defund” the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services because it pays for itself based on application fees.

Rogers is pushing for a yearlong spending bill to get spending fights out of the way, and then finding some other way to respond to Obama.

That’s angered some conservatives who argued that establishment Republicans were just looking for a way out of a necessary confrontation with the president.

“They’re contriving red herring arguments to get to the point where enough members will walk out of this Congress and go home for Thanksgiving and say, `Well, there’s nothing we can do,’” said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who was among a small group of conservatives arguing impeachment should be on the table as a last resort.

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Obama Offers to Walk John Boehner’s Dog. Boehner Doesn’t Have a Dog.

The president has been offering to wash his detractors’ cars and walk their dogs for more than two years.

President Obama, in trying to push for compromise on immigration legislation with Republicans, included a favorite joke during a speech on Friday at a Las Vegas high school, where he first outlined his plans for reform two years ago.

“I told John Boehner, you know, I’ll wash your car. I’ll walk your dog, whatever you need to do,” Obama said, referring to last summer, when a bipartisan immigration bill had passed in the Senate, but the House speaker refused to call a vote in his chamber.

Thing is, Boehner doesn’t have a dog, his office tells National Journal.

The president offered his car-washing and dog-walking services in Ohio in September 2012, in exchange for compromise with Republicans to reduce the deficit, via CNS News:

While speaking in Cincinnati on Monday, Obama said, “The only thing they [Republicans] can do is keep trying to bluff their way through until November, and hope that you won’t call them on it. But understand Cincinnati, look, I want to work with them to reduce the deficit. I’ve said if the Republicans need more love, if they want me to walk the dog or wash their car, I’m happy to do it.”

And on the radio in October 2012, on working with Republican leaders to reach a bipartisan deficit- and debt-reduction deal, via Politico:

“I’ll wash John Boehner’s car, I’ll walk Mitch McConnell’s dog,” Obama said in a Friday interview with radio host Michael Smerconish, referring respective [sic.] to the House Speaker and Senate minority leader.

And at the White House in July, about equal pay and labor legislation, via Bloomberg:

“I’ll go to them,” he said of Congress. “I’ll wash their car, walk their dog.”

This story has been updated with a comment from Boehner’s office.


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The House Republicans Finally Sued Obama

How did House Republicans respond to President Obama’s speech announcing his decision to circumvent Congress on immigration? They sued him, but not over that.

Less than a day after Obama made his defiant move, Speaker John Boehner finally went through with the lawsuit he had long promised to file over the administration’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The timing was surprising, given that the House had just days earlier hired its third lawyer to handle the case after the first two quit under political pressure.

Republican officials say the House can still—and very well might—sue Obama over his orders to protect as many as five million immigrants from deportation, but the fact that they chose Friday morning to file their healthcare lawsuit sent a message that they would follow through on their own threats of action. “The House will, in fact, act,” Boehner insisted to reporters when he appeared outside his Capitol office to respond to Obama’s immigration speech. As if to prove his point, the announcement about the Obamacare lawsuit came barely an hour later.

“Time after time, the president has chosen to ignore the will of the American people and re-write federal law on his own without a vote of Congress,” Boehner said in a statement accompanying the suit.

“That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work.   If this president can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have the ability to as well.  The House has an obligation to stand up for the Constitution, and that is exactly why we are pursuing this course of action.”

Filed in the U.S. federal district court in Washington, the lawsuit challenges the Obama administration’s decision to unilaterally delay implementation of the employer mandate in the 2010 law, along with cost-sharing subsidies paid to insurance companies that House Republicans allege were not appropriated by Congress. It names not the president himself but the secretaries of the Treasury Department and the Department of Health and Human Services as defendants, and it asked the court to issue an injunction against the administration. “The House has been injured, and will continue to be injured, by defendants’ unlawful actions which, among other things, usurp the House’s legislative authority,” the lawsuit claims.

The legal challenge will test not only whether the president exceeded his authority but whether the House has the standing to take him to court. Legal scholars have said there is little precedent for a lawsuit by a single chamber of Congress against the president, and House GOP aides have privately acknowledged a judge could throw the challenge out before even ruling on the merits of the case.

“The fact is, this lawsuit is a bald-faced attempt to achieve what Republicans have been unable to achieve through the political process,” Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, said in response on Friday. “The legislative branch cannot sue simply because they disagree with the way a law passed by a different Congress has been implemented.  It is clear, as one leading legal scholar put it, that this lawsuit is ‘an embarrassing loser.’”

Yet after the president’s immigration move on Thursday, it is likely not the final legal salvo from House Republicans. Boehner said they hadn’t decided how exactly they planned to confront the president, but his office made clear that an additional lawsuit, which would require a separate vote by the House, was under consideration.

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Watch Live: President Obama Campaigns For Democrat Mary Burke In Wisconsin

Watch Live: President Obama Campaigns For Democrat Mary Burke In Wisconsin

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With one week to go until Election Day, President Obama is doing his part to help defeat Republican Gov. Scott Walker by campaigning with Democratic candidate Mary Burke.

Live video courtesy of TMJ4 in Milwaukee:

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Boehner: Obama can’t be trusted to enforce law

House Speaker John Boehner blasted President Barack Obama’s new executive actions on immigration, saying they “deliberately sabotage” bipartisan efforts. He vowed that Republicans would respond.

The speaker argued Friday that Obama’s actions will make it more challenging for lawmakers to trust the president for any future cooperation.

“You can’t ask the elected representatives of the people to trust you to enforce the law if you’re constantly demonstrating that you can’t be trusted to enforce the law,” Boehner said.

Read More Obama: ‘Our immigration system is broken, and everybody knows it’

In addition to decrying the process by which Obama enacted these reforms—executive action as opposed to bipartisan legislation—the speaker also questioned the wisdom of the reforms’ content.

The president argued that his efforts to bolster border security will mean less undocumented immigration, despite the temporary reprieve from deportation he offered almost 5 million immigrants, but Boehner disagreed.

“The action by the president yesterday will only encourage more people to come here illegally, putting their lives at risk,” Boehner said.

Read MoreGOP reacts furiously to Obama immigration plan

He added that the executive action also “punishes those who have obeyed the law and waited their turn.”

Boehner said he is working with Republicans to formulate a response to Obama’s actions, but promised that “the House will in fact act.”

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John Boehner warns Obama: ‘The House will act’

Watch out: Speaker of the House John Boehner warned Obama that Congress will fight back against the President's plan for immigration overhaul.JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images Watch out: Speaker of the House John Boehner warned Obama that Congress will fight back against the President’s plan for immigration overhaul.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner warned President Obama that the House won’t sit idly by as the White House moves forward with its immigration overhaul.

“The House will in fact act,” he told reporters on Friday, hours after the President announced he would bypass Congress and exercise executive action to enact a series of reforms to the country’s immigration policies.

The executive actions, which Obama laid out in a prime-time television address, are designed to make nearly 5 million immigrants illegally in the United States eligible for protection from deportation and for work permits.

It would mainly cover parents of U.S. citizens and of legal residents as long as the parents have been in the U.S. for five years or more. But Obama’s actions also would change enforcement priorities by emphasizing the deportation of new illegal arrivals and criminals.

“With this action, the President has chosen to deliberately sabotage any chance of enacting bipartisan reforms that he claims to seek.

“And as I told him yesterday, he’s damaging the presidency itself.”

Boehner (R-Ohio) didn’t detail what that action would look like.

Congress is now on holiday recess and will return the week of Dec. 1.

Obama addressed his critics during his live TV address on Thursday, telling those upset at his plan to “pass a bill.”

On Thursday, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) predicted the ”president will come to regret the chapter history writes if he does move forward.

Because the plan he’s presenting is more than just, as the president himself has acknowledged, an overreach — it’s also unfair.”

With News Wire Services

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