Pete Souza/White House

Obama Reportedly Set to Act on Immigration

Executive action, strongly opposed by the GOP, would help as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants.

President Obama will reportedly launch an executive action plan in the coming days to help as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants, granting them temporary relief from deportation and work authorization.

While administration officials told The New York Times the plan was not set in stone, it falls short of the benchmark—8 million—that immigration advocates had hoped for, using the bipartisan Senate bill as a metric for "big and bold" reforms.

Any executive action defies GOP lawmakers in a big way, paving the path for a fight over budget negotiations and the attorney general nomination in Congress. Obama could act as soon as next week; he returns from his trip to Asia on Sunday night.

A crucial component of Obama's executive action plan, as reported in The Times, centers around parents of children who are U.S. citizens or legal residents. It would allow parents to apply for work authorization and allay the fear of deportation.

This would affect at least 3.3 million people who had been in the country for as many as five years, or more than 2.5 million if the plan is contingent on at least 10 years of residency, according to a Migration Policy Institute report.

About 1 million more undocumented immigrants could receive temporary stays of removal if the plan extends protections to more children who came to the country illegally when they were young, as well as to their parents, according to The Times.

Enforcement reforms are also reported to be in the mix.

Per a 2011 directive, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has three main priorities: immigrants posing a national-security or public-safety risk, recent illegal entrants (those who entered the country in the last three years), and those with prior immigration violations.

Marshall Fitz, the Center for American Progress's immigration policy director, told National Journalearlier this week that the agency needed to do a better job at adhering to these set priorities—and they should be narrowed.

The executive action plan reportedly being considered would more clearly define who is a low or high deportation priority. Immigrants with strong family ties and without a criminal background are on the low end of the scale. Convicted criminals, those who pose national-security threats, and recent border crossers are of the highest priority.

Additionally, Obama plans to move more security resources to the border, revamp the Secure Communities program, and increase opportunities to immigrants with high-tech skills.

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