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Deportation and executive action, part 2: beyond Deferred Action

December 13, 2013 – David Hahn

In the first part of this post, we wrote about how the delay in passing immigration reform has resulted in a remarkably high number of deportations during Barack Obama’s presidency. As we noted in our November 26 post, the Obama administration has deported more than 2 million people since it took office in 2009.

We say “delay in passing” rather than “failure to pass” reform legislation because it is probably too early to pronounce the demise of the heart-felt hopes of so many millions of people for comprehensive changes to the country’s immigration system.

In this part of the post, let’s look at some of the executive actions that the Obama administration could take to protect more people from deportation.

Perhaps the most obvious possible action of that type would be to expand the Deferred Action program created by executive order in the summer of 2012. The program allows immigrants under the age of 31 who came to the U.S. as children to apply to block possible deportation. The deferral of deportation applies for at least two years, so long as immigrants meet certain conditions.

The full name of the program is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

As we explained in our November 1 post, the Deferred Action program has been very popular. But it is obviously limited in scope and does not fully address concerns about deportation among millions of other undocumented immigrants who do not meet Deferred Action criteria.

What form might an expansion of the Deferred Action program take? Well, the Obama administration has already taken a couple of steps toward expansion. The president issued an executive order that stopped the deportation of immigrant children who do not have criminal records.

The administration also announced in a policy memo that it would not deport the families of U.S. military service members.

It remains to be seen, however, whether the administration might seek to expand Deferred Action in much broader terms. After all, the administration could potentially propose including all undocumented immigrants who do not have criminal backgrounds and agree to meet specified criteria.

Source: Huffington Post, “Deferred Action for All!” Michael LaRosa and Bryce W. Ashby, Nov. 19, 2013

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