Executive Action is Finally Here — Rejoice!

I assume that anyone reading this likely is already aware that last week President Obama announced some significant reforms via executive order. He expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), created a new, similar program for parents of U.S. citizens and LPRs, and reminded ICE, once again, of its enforcement priorities.  He also plans to implement a couple of business immigration reforms that will be quite handy, such as allowing those with approved employment visa applications (I-140s) to file for adjustment of status even though their priority dates are not current due to the quota backlog.

Ultimately, these are all good things. I’m very pleased that the President acted on immigration.  That being said, here are a couple of things that really annoy me about how all this went down and the general reaction around the country.

First and foremost, those happy with the reforms should rightly thank President Obama.  He could have simply not acted, but he did.  He gets credit for that.  HOWEVER, he could have done this all on day 1 of his term.  He did not do so because it was not politically beneficial for him to do so. He hoped DACA would buy him enough goodwill to keep the Dems in power and maybe, maybe, eventually, Congress would act.  That didn’t happen. And for that, he rightly deserves criticism.  It’s a mixed bag, but as a pro-immigrant attorney, I’ll take it.

Second, I wish he had expanded deferred action to the parents of DACA recipients.  I think it was simply politically untenable for him to do so.  But, leaving this gap undercuts the “family unity” message under which all these reforms were deemed necessary.  Again, I’m happy action was taken, but the message is a bit mixed.

Here’s hoping that Congress does eventually fix our unmistakeably broken system.  But I’m not holding my breath. These executive orders are great and all, until the next guy takes over and strips them all back.  I hope it doesn’t happen, but I’d prefer to not have to worry about it.  Onwards and upwards!

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