The specter of thousands of unaccompanied children, mainly from Central America, crossing the Texas border has increased a sense of urgency among the American people for reforming the immigration system despite inaction by a "broken Congress," Dan Pfeiffer, the president's deputy communications director told the Christian Science Monitor. That gives the president "broad permission" to take action, said Pfeiffer, adding that Obama is consulting with Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson to be sure his planned action will on "solid legal footing" and have maximum impact.
The White House isn't saying just what actions are planned, but Time magazine reports immigration reform advocates who met with the president on June 30 are "expecting something dramatic," including a moratorium on deportations and the granting of work permits for millions of undocumented immigrants. Activists are calling on the president to extend the administration's "prosecutorial discretion" to protect the illegal migrants who would have qualified for the "pathway to citizenship" in the bipartisan immigration reform bill that passed the Senate last year but has been shelved in the Republican-controlled House. The Senate bill would have covered up to eight million illegal aliens, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis.
"I think we can get 3 or 4, maybe even 5 million people" covered by executive order, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez predicted on the Morning Joe radio program Friday. Obama "seems resolute that he's going to go big and go soon," Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-reform group America's Voice, told Time. The prediction is consistent with what the president himself said after Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the House would not be voting on immigration reform this year. The president announced he would "do what Congress refuses to do, and fix as much of our immigration system as we can."
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Photo is of the opening segment of the Emancipation Proclamation