Obama will halt deportation of up to 5 million immigrants

  • President Obama's ready to announce his #ImmigrationAction. Watch live at 8pm ET: go.wh.gov/msMfGM

  • Department of Homeland Security says Obama's immigration plan is legal wapo.st/1vun508
  • To understand Obama’s next big immigration action, you need to understand his first bit.ly/1uZ0Vkw
  • Obama Will Halt Deportation Of Up To 5 Million Immigrants

    NPR.orgDefying congressional Republicans, President Obama will defer the deportation of the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and will also prioritize the deportation of criminals.
  • ABC, CBS, NBC won't carry Obama
    David Bauder, Associated Press

    NEW YORK (AP) — ABC, CBS and NBC decided against covering President Barack Obama's speech on immigration live on Thursday, although the Spanish-language Univision network is delaying its telecast of the Latin Grammy Awards to show the address.

    The news networks CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC all planned to air Obama live.

    Obama is planning to speak at 8 p.m. EST to announce that he is ordering federal action on immigration, angering Republican leaders in Congress.

    The major broadcast networks generally carry presidential speeches on matters of national security and other important issues. But there can be a reluctance in executive suites if an anticipated address is seen as heavily political in nature.

    It's not clear if that's the reasoning here. CBS News, through a spokeswoman, said it declined to comment on editorial decisions. ABC News also declined comment, and NBC News did not have an immediate response to a query.

    While the president is speaking, CBS will air "The Big Bang Theory," television's top-rated comedy. ABC will show an episode of "Grey's Anatomy," while NBC promises a sand-pile challenge on "The Biggest Loser" in that time slot.

    A former news division president once responsible for making those decisions said that while he did not know the reasons behind the lack of coverage in this instance, he has concerns about the signal being sent.

    "I think it is of real concern to the country if we come to a place where our major broadcast outlets are not fully covering the news," said David Westin, ABC News president from 1997 to 2010. "I'm not sure we're there yet, but I worry that we may be headed in that direction."

    The networks did offer live coverage when President George W. Bush spoke in prime-time about immigration reform in May 2006. The Nielsen company said 41.6 million people watched Bush that night, virtually identical to the audience he received for his State of the Union address a few months earlier.

    Obama's State of the Union was seen by 33.3 million people this past January, the smallest total of his presidency, Nielsen said.

    Fox broadcasting, which doesn't have its own news division but occasionally simulcasts Fox News Channel coverage on the network for big events, did not plan to do so for Obama's speech.

    The Latin Grammys were to start at 8 p.m. and air live on Univision. The network said Thursday it would carry Obama live, with the Grammys delaying its start until after the president is through. Last year's Latin Grammy telecast was seen by 4.6 million viewers.
  • Does Obama have authority for immigration changes?

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's announcement of sweeping changes to the nation's immigration system is likely to lead to a battle over legality. Is he on solid legal ground?

    For months the White House and Obama's supporters have insisted that he has the authority to direct immigration authorities to exercise discretion in deciding which immigrants in the country illegally will face deportation and which won't. He was describing his plan Thursday night.

    But Republicans in Congress disagree with the White House view. They have called Obama's plan an unconstitutional power grab.

    "The president seems intent on provoking a constitutional crisis by adopting policies that he previously said were illegal," said Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas.

    Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said "Congress will act" to stop the president's executive actions when his party takes control of the Senate in January.

    In recent days the White House and others have pointed to previous presidents, including Republicans Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, who acted unilaterally on immigration.

    A year after Reagan and Congress enacted an overhaul that gave legal status to up to 3 million immigrants who had no authorization to be in the country in 1986, Reagan's Immigration and Naturalization Service expanded the program to cover minor children of parents granted amnesty. Spouses and children of couples in which one parent qualified for amnesty but the other did not remained subject to deportation, leading to efforts to amend the 1986 law.

    President George H.W. Bush in 1990 established a "family fairness" program in which family members who were living with a legalizing immigrant and who had been in the U.S. before passage of the 1986 law were granted protection from deportation and authorized to seek employment. The administration estimated that up to 1.5 million people would be covered by the policy. Congress later made the protections permanent.

    At issue is how far Obama can go on his own to shield from deportation immigrants who are in the country illegally. The administration and its supporters have argued that the use of prosecutorial discretion — the ability to decide which cases will be pursued by prosecutors, either in immigration or criminal court — allows the president to decide which groups of immigrants should be a priority. Obama has argued that he can go one step further and use a provision in immigration law called "deferred action" to formally protect particular immigrants from deportation.

    Immigrants granted deferred action are also eligible for work permits.

    What the president can't do is halt all deportations, or permanently change the immigration status of any specific group of immigrants. Only Congress has that power.

    While the president's proposals have been cleared by lawyers from both the Homeland Security and Justice departments, there's no guarantee that Republican lawmakers or others won't head to court to try to stop any executive changes.

    It's unclear how such a challenge would fare. A lawsuit challenging the 2012 program that protects many young immigrants from deportation was challenged in federal court in Texas but was dismissed on technical grounds.
  • Great discussion this afternoon. Again, my thanks to John Malcolm, who is a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation and also to Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera of Milwaukee, an immigrant rights group, with whom I spoke earlier today.
    Both John and Christine plan to write op-eds on this important issue; we’ll publish them in the Journal Sentinel this coming Sunday.
    And just a reminder, don’t forget to stop by JS Online this evening for the president’s address to the nation on his plan for immigration.
    Thanks for stopping by everybody!
    by David Haynes via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 9:24:38 PM
  • I disagree with your fundamental premise, and, by the way, Senator Harry Reid has not even permitted amendments to be offered by members of his own party. You may not like it, but the party in control of either the House or the Senate can exercise a lot of control over what gets put to a vote and when -- that is one of the levers that body can use to bring people, including the president, to the table to compromise. However, even if what you say is true, that does not give the president the authority to exercise legislative authority. That's what separation of powers is all about. Again, this sets a very dangerous precedent.
    by John G. Malcolm via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 9:21:50 PM
  • John, we'll let you answer Morlan's question and then we'll wrap up.
    by David Haynes via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 9:21:10 PM
  • How about Speaker of the House, Jon Boehner, bring the bipartisan immigration bill to the floor for a straight up or down vote? There were plenty of votes to pass the bill, but Boehner refused to take up the business of the country. This is Republican obstructionism at its worst. So, if the GOP obstructs, imho, the President is left with no option but to do what a single man -- John Boehner -- refuses to even take up.
    by morlan via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 9:18:45 PM
  • Hard for me to say off the top of my head, but a couple of instances come to mind. The Supreme Court dealt President Bush several setbacks with respect to rights that were accorded to detainees at Guantanamo Bay, which could certainly be interpreted as a rebuke of the president's view of his executive authority. Another example that was ultimately dealt with through legislative compromise was the president's original bulk data collection efforts in the wake of 9/11 that many, including many in Congress, thought involved executive overreaching.
    by John G. Malcolm via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 9:18:41 PM
  • Can you give us two modern instances where a Republican president overstepped his executive authority?
    by Steve via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 9:15:21 PM
  • Rather "should involve"
    by John G. Malcolm via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 9:14:33 PM
  • While most Americans might agree that immigration is a problem, they do not all agree on how to respond to it, which does not empower the president to simply say, "Well then, I'll do it my way." President Obama has not, in my view and contrary to his repeated pronouncements, worked with Congress on this. Look, for the first two years of his presidency, the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, and the president still could not get his preferred proposal enacted. This is a tough issue that involves good faith, intense negotiations by all sides, and that should include the states who bear the brunt of the illegal immigration problem.
    by John G. Malcolm via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 9:14:09 PM
  • Most Americans would still agree that there is a problem with immigration. So if, as you argue, the president should not act on his own in the manner he envisions, what should he do?
    by David Haynes via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 9:11:00 PM
  • Just because it involves foreign nationals does not mean that the matter involves foreign affairs. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress exclusive authority to “establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization ….” And many Supreme Court cases have reaffirmed this time and time again, including just a couple of terms ago in Arizona v. United States. Exclusive authority means exclusive authority.
    by John G. Malcolm via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 9:09:44 PM
  • @JohnG.Malcolm You're splitting hairs. If President Obama can argue that immigration is part of his authority in foreign affairs, since these are foreign nationals we're talking about, then he is within his rights to do so.
  • I would add, though, that this will be one of the hurdles that anybody filing a lawsuit will have to overcome. And I readily admit it is not an easy question. How much is enough when it comes to enforcement is a tough question to answer. This is one of the reasons, I believe, why Speaker Boehner chose to sue President Obama over actions he took (or didn't take, more precisely) with respect to Obamacare rather than immigration. Now on the question you just posed: sure they can. Congress controls appropriations and can attach riders such as the type you describe. Whether the president will view the bills they are attached to as "must pass" or whether he will pick a(nother) fight by vetoing those bills, remains to be seen.
    by John G. Malcolm via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 9:06:48 PM
  • And here's that link for those of you who can get to it.
    by David Haynes via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 9:05:40 PM
  • I'd like to get back to the political fallout of the president's plan for a moment. I read in The Wall Street Journal the other day that some congressional Republicans "is seeking to use must-pass spending legislation in the final weeks of the year to place limits on President Barack Obama ’s ability to loosen immigration rules." Can they do that?
    by David Haynes via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 9:05:11 PM
  • Based on some comments he has made, I am assuming that he will rely on traditional "prosecutorial discretion." I am a former prosecutor, by the way, so I am very familiar with this concept. The president’s constitutional duty to enforce the laws derives from Art. II, sec. 3 which states that the President “shall take Care that the laws be faithfully executed.” The president will essentially announced that over half the illegal immigrants in this country (clear law-breakers) have nothing to worry about, that the immigration laws won’t be applied to them, and that we will, in fact, give them work permits. This may be many things, but it is not “faithful execution” of our immigration laws, and is not, in my opinion, a proper exercise of prosecutorial discretion. Prosecutorial discretion is traditionally done on a case-by-case basis and is designed to further statutory objectives -- what the president proposes to do does neither.
    by John G. Malcolm via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 9:02:31 PM
  • I should know this but don't: What is Obama's legal argument for what he plans to do, and what would be your response to that argument?
    by David Haynes via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 8:58:43 PM
  • Not sure what you are talking about, although I assume it is Iran-Contra. Assuming it is, President Reagan did not "get away with it" -- remember the Iran-Contra hearings and prosecutions? I would add, though, that presidents do get to exercise far more authority over foreign affairs ("Commander in Chief" authority under the Constitution) and national security.
    by John G. Malcolm via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 8:57:25 PM
  • When the president is so determined to fund a foreign rebel group that he ignores a law passed by Congress specifically forbidding it, is that not also a Constitutional issue? Or is it okay because the president is a Republican while Congress is controlled by Democrats?

  • Great question. The president may not like congressional intransigence, at least through his eyes, but this does not give him the authority to act unilaterally. Congress has plenary power under our Constitution to legislate in the area of immigration. The president is supposed to (indeed must) execute our laws. He may be disappointed that Congress hasn't acted, but, as president, he does not have legislative power (nor does he have judicial power -- even though he may not like all the things that judges do).
    by John G. Malcolm via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 8:54:19 PM
  • So what is an 'executive action' anyway?
    Scott Neuman, NPR

    You can read here about President Obama's impending executive action on immigration. Or here, a story about his forthcoming executive order.

    Although commonly conflated in the media, the two terms aren't exactly interchangeable.

    In short ...

    A presidential executive order "is a directive issued to federal agencies, department heads, or other federal employees by the President of the United States under his statutory or constitutional powers," according to Robert Longley, writing at usgovinfo.about.com. "In many ways, presidential executive orders are similar to written orders, or instructions issued by the president of a corporation to its department heads or directors."

    By contrast, a presidential executive action is kind of a catch-all term, writes NBC, which quoted an unnamed administration official in 2011 as saying: "It just means something the executive branch does. The use of any of a number of tools in the executive branch's toolbox."

    Political writer Tom Murse says: "[Most] executive actions carry no legal weight. Those that do actually set policy can be invalidated by the courts or undone by legislation passed by Congress."

    Murse writes:

    "The terms executive action and executive order are not interchangeable. Executive orders are legally binding and published in the Federal Register.

    "A good way to think of executive actions is a wish list of policies the president would like to see enacted."

    In the conservative National Review, Greg Pollowitz took exception with most media outlets (including, presumably, NPR) last year for writing that the president had issued 23 "executive orders" on guns:

    "The [mainstream media] ... is using 'executive order' as a replacement for 'executive action,' which gives the reader the impression that the president has done more than he really has. The reality is President Obama hasn't done much of anything. The headline 'Obama To Fight Gun Industry with Three Presidential Memoranda' just doesn't carry the same oomph as '23 Executive Orders.' "

    And those memorandums?

    New York Magazine wrote at the time: "A memorandum is an executive order. However, since executive orders are a particularly controversial and politically charged lever of presidential power (the mere mention of them has inspired talk of impeachment among some of Congress's more firebrand Republicans), it's important to note that they (or something exactly like them) comprised only three of the items on Obama's list of 23 'executive actions.' "

    So, on immigration, what exactly is the president ginning up? The White House says that tonight "President Obama will address the nation to lay out the executive actions he's taking to fix our broken immigration system." (Emphasis added.)

    "What I'm going to be laying out is the things I can do with my lawful authority as president to make the system work better even as I continue to work with Congress and encourage them to get a bipartisan, comprehensive bill that can solve the entire problem," Obama said in a video posted Wednesday on the White House Facebook page.

    Whether executive action or order, Republicans are not happy about the president's decision to go it alone on immigration.

    In general, they say the issuance of any executive order represents a gross overstepping of presidential power. House Speaker John Boehner has even sued the White House over it. The Ohio Republican has accused Obama of using a "king-like authority at the expense of the American people and their elected legislators."

    Of course, executive orders have been around since the first days of the republic. George Washington issued eight of them. Perhaps the most famous example was Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.

    Critics say there's no specific Constitutional authority for them, but precedent has outweighed the critics.

    Obama has actually issued far fewer executive orders than most of his predecessors, as Brookings scholar John Hudak, among others, has noted. As of last month, Obama had issued 193 directives classified as "executive orders" — the fewest of any two-term president since Theodore Roosevelt.

  • Let me jump in on your comment about Senators Manchin and McCaskill. I believe that the Congress, including the Senate, has an institutional interest in seeing that its authority is not usurped by the president. During earlier administrations, Senators of both parties had no problem standing up to presidents when they thought the president was overreaching. It has been somewhat surprising and disappointing to see that this no longer seems to be the case. Separation of powers is very important in terms of protecting our liberty.
    by John G. Malcolm via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 8:51:39 PM
  • John, the argument that the president is making to the public at least goes something like this: We have a major problem with immigration, so I tried to get a comprehensive bill passed in Congress, and it was shot down, then I agreed that a piecemeal approach might work, but that didn't go anywhere either. So in the wake of congressional indifference to a major problem, I have to act. What's wrong with that argument, which I'm sure differs from the legal argument he's making?
    by David Haynes via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 8:51:19 PM
  • I don't think it really matters. I read an article in the WSJ a couple of days ago that said that, while Mexicans still make up the majority of illegal immigrants in this country, their numbers were declining while the numbers from Central America were rising.
    by John G. Malcolm via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 8:49:05 PM
  • While I would wager that most Democrats will support the president's plans, some Dem senators are expressing reservations - Joe Manchin or West Va., and Claire McCaskill of Missouri are two.
    by David Haynes via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 8:48:58 PM
  • I keep hearing that the vast majority of illegals are from Central and South America. Is that correct? Or does it matter where in the country you are located? It seems to me that there should be a fair number of Asian and Middle Easterners in that group as well. I think people hear illegal alien and assume a Latino person.
    by Peter via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 8:47:50 PM
  • I am afraid I don't. Like you, I had heard that immigrant visa recapture was something the president was considering doing, but as for the precise details, I will be tuning in tonight just like you.
    by John G. Malcolm via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 8:47:26 PM
  • hello Mr. Malcolm. Is there any word whether immigrant visa recapture will be included in the President's plan. As you know, many legal foreign nationals have been waiting many years for their green cards. There was hope that the President would include such provisions, but the WSJ this morning reported that they would not be. Do you have any information on that? Thank you.
    by x - the universe via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 8:46:18 PM
  • I certainly think that this will make coming up with a bipartisan solution on this issue (and many others, I might add) much, much harder. When you work towards bipartisan solutions, you need to have a good deal of trust in the person on the other side of the table. By thumbing his nose at Congress and by saying that he won't enforce the laws he doesn't like, it makes it hard to develop trust. As for what will happen, there are some things that Congress can do short of a lawsuit, although I know that Congress and others are considering filing lawsuits over this -- they won't be easy though because of standing (a legal term) and other hurdles.
    by John G. Malcolm via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 8:45:39 PM
  • And a link to our interview with Congressman Ryan, newly appointed chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
    by David Haynes via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 8:45:04 PM
  • Here, by the way, is a good backgrounder on Obama's actions from the Wash Post.
    by David Haynes via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 8:44:03 PM
  • Given that view - and it's widespread among Republicans in Congress - what do you think the fallout will be for the administration's relations with Congress on this or other issues? Gov. Scott Walker called for a lawsuit to stop the president - and Paul Ryan, the congressman from Janesville, said yesterday that Obama's actions would "poison the well." What do you think? Any chance for bipartisanship after this?
    by David Haynes via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 8:42:47 PM
  • Sorry, meant to say "a short time later"
    by John G. Malcolm via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 8:40:40 PM
  • Although some have made that argument, I don't think so. President Reagan worked with Congress to pass the Simpson-Mazzoli Act of 1986, which granted amnesty to some 3 million illegal immigrants. He then acted pursuant to that act to clarify certain administrative matters, but these were within the discretion he had been given by the Act. President Bush also sought to clarify the Act and implemented a “Family Fairness” policy, but then worked with Congress to make that policy permanent through formal legislation a short time earlier. What President Obama is doing now is quite different. He is implementing a policy preference that has been explicitly rejected by Congress several times, and is thereby effectively granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants by executive fiat.
    by John G. Malcolm via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 8:40:03 PM
  • It's certainly a legitimate concern - separation of powers - but haven't other presidents done much the same thing, even Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush?
    by David Haynes via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 8:36:12 PM
  • Well, I have some policy concerns and legal concerns. In terms of the latter, I am concerned that the president acting unilaterally against the will of Congress in a way that I violates separation of powers principles, which sets a very dangerous precedent, in my view.
    by John G. Malcolm via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 8:35:16 PM
  • Thanks, John. We're already getting some questions from readers. Thanks for being with me. What is your main concern with what the president is proposing to do?
    by David Haynes via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 8:33:28 PM
  • Glad to join you.
    by John G. Malcolm via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 8:32:12 PM
  • Good afternoon! Welcome to our follow-up chat on President Barack Obama’s speech tonight on immigration policy. Obama plans to announce new executive actions to protect up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation.
    Please welcome John Malcolm, who is a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. John opposes President Obama’s actions.
    He has written:
    “…Obama [is] going against the will of Congress, which considered and rejected the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act on several occasions, including when both houses of Congress were controlled by the president’s party, and Reagan and Bush who made administrative corrections designed to carry out congressional intent.
    “….In short, while Reagan and Bush worked closely with Congress to implement the comprehensive legislation that Congress had passed (in the case of Reagan) or would pass shortly thereafter (in the case of Bush), Obama is bypassing Congress entirely. He is unconstitutionally revising existing law and, without Congressional approval, imposing new ones that have been explicitly rejected by Congress time and time again, thereby setting himself up as a kingmaker (or king) on immigration policy.”
    We’ll discuss all that. We spoke, by the way, with Christine Neumann-Ortiz of Voces de la Frontera this morning. That discussion is archived on our website.
    And don’t forget: Watch the president’s address tonight at 7 p.m. in a live stream here at JS Online.
    Please post your comments and questions for John in these moderated discussions. We’ll get to as many of them as possible.
    John, welcome and good afternoon!
    by David Haynes via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11/20/2014 8:29:59 PM
  • New enforcement focus in Obama's immigration plan

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says President Barack Obama's immigration plan will focus enforcement efforts on immigrants who are serious criminals — and those who crossed into the U.S. illegally or were ordered from the country in the last year.

    Johnson is detailing the plan to Homeland Security Department employees at three agencies in charge of enforcing immigration laws.

    He says going after immigrants with serious criminal records, including adult gang members, will be an enforcement priority.

    A lower enforcement priority will be immigrants with convictions for three or more misdemeanors or for "significant" misdemeanors. Johnson isn't say what a significant misdemeanor is.

    Johnson says the lowest priority will be immigrants who crossed the border illegally since Jan. 1, 2014, and those ordered to leave since that date.
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