I cannot find the text of the memos/orders signed yesterday by President Obama to implement the actions announced in his immigration speech this past Thursday evening. (I have looked under Presidential Actions at the White House website.) I have therefore been unable to check the details of Obama’s action against the comments below, which are offered by an immigration attorney who works with existing law:
The proposed executive action on immigration (or whatever name you want to give it) will allow [illegal aliens] who have US citizen or green-card children and who have been here for five years to apply for some kind of quasi-status and open market work authorization. That would allow them to work for a period of time at any employer, the authorization presumably renewable until they decide to leave or have an option for US permanent resident status (green card status). This, the administration tells us, is fair and just and Biblical – yada/yada.
But this option is explicitly NOT available to those in the US in a valid legal status. There are millions of people in the US who have temporary status – as students or temporary workers or researchers or as investors (lots of Koreans own businesses with E-2 investor visas, for example). These people – many of them have US citizen children and have been here five years. These people who have been here legally and not violated their immigration status – these people are explicitly NOT eligible for open market work authorization, renewable indefinitely.
You must be in violation of the law to benefit from this provision.
If Republicans want to begin to push back on this issue, to turn the tables, I believe this is the question that needs to be raised again and again – why is the administration offering something to lawbreakers that is specifically prohibited for those who comply with the law?
There is no answer – I guarantee it. And when this point is circulated broadly, including broadly among immigrant and naturalized citizens, there will be resentment.
I realize there are a lot of angles to this issue but I haven’t seen anyone cover the above and I think it is one of the strongest points. Obama can fool people on the legal analysis and role of the executive but people know on a basic fundamental level that you should not be offering something to lawbreakers that is not available to the law-abiding.
We will revisit this issue when we have found the relevant White House action.
UPDATE: DHS has posted links to the executive actions here.