Executive orders are rules that are issued by the president. He does not need the approval of Congress for such orders. They allow him to tell federal agencies how to act.
President Obama wanted Congress to pass a big immigration reform bill. The Senate did, but the House of Representatives did not.
The biggest immigration question has to do with the legal status of undocumented people. About 11 million people in America have no papers. About half over-stayed a visa. The other half arrived by coming over the border from Mexico.
The president can grant deportation deferrals and give work permits. That gives people legal status.
Republicans and conservatives say legalizing the undocumented is a form of amnesty. They say that means forgiving them for being here without permission.
Democrats and progressives say the undocumented must follow rules before they can get legal status. They must pay taxes, have no criminal record and pay fees. Then they must go to the back of the line. They will be behind everyone who has applied for a green card or other type of visa.
Observers say any rule made by the president will only cover some of the undocumented.
The undocumented parents of children born in America will be covered. The children are American citizens. The undocumented parents of children covered by the deferral program of 2012 will be covered. In all, about two million people are in these groups.
The Republicans take charge of both the House of Representatives and the Senate next January.
The House speaker said the president should not act on his own. He said, “When you play with matches, you risk burning yourself. He is going to burn himself if he continues down this path.”
He went on, “There will be no chance of immigration reform in this Congress.”
President Obama said he is going to move ahead and issue the orders before the end of the year.
Source: The New York Times November 6, 2014