He will make the changes by executive order. That means without the approval of Congress. The order will set off a national political firestorm.
The president’s plan will allow millions of unauthorized persons to become legal residents of the United States. It will not make them citizens.
He is targeting two groups. One includes adults who have been living in the U.S. for five years or more. They must not have criminal records. They will pay fees and taxes before they get legal status. This group is about 3.3 million people. If this group is required to have lived here ten years, the number will go down to about 2.5 million people.
The second group includes the parents of “Dreamers” (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Dreamers came to the U.S. as children with their unauthorized parents. These parents would follow the same rules to become legal as other adults. This change might add as many as one million people.
Other changes would allow more high-skilled immigrants to remain in the U.S.
Republicans believe such changes should only be made by legislation. They vow to oppose the President by any legislative means possible.
For example, a budget resolution is needed before the end of the year. The quickest way to oppose immigration change is to stop the funding needed to enforce the rules.
If the president does not agree to such language, he will not sign the bill. Spending by the government will stop. Each side will blame the other.
However, that is just the beginning. Procedures can be used to hold up important votes. Confirmations can be blocked. For example, the appointment of the next attorney general can be halted.
Republicans say they will get to immigration reform in the Congress that starts January 2015.
Advocates of immigration reform support the efforts of the President. However, even some of them have concerns. Some think the President may be overreaching. Executive orders that have an affect on this many people are rare. The next President may use the same method to issue orders opposed by advocates.
What is certain is that there will be a war of words.