November 14, 2014
Yesterday, Fox News reported the claims of an anonymous source “close to the White House” regarding the Obama administration’s planned executive actions on immigration. The White House maintains that the details are still being worked out, but the leaked plan is very similar to proposals that have been discussed since the Summer, including plans to:
The “leak” also includes new proposals, at least one of which does not appear in other, mainstream reporting:
Giving a raise to ICE officers
The administration would love to avoid the sight of disgruntled law enforcement officers complaining on national TV about changes to immigration policy. By signaling that the new plans will include a raise for ICE officers, the administration may succeed in purchasing ICE support.
Expanding high tech visas
No concrete details have been reported on this aspect of the plan. However, any increase in the availability of work visas for employees in IT fields (who currently rely heavily on H-1B visas) will be welcomed by pro-immigration business groups like the Chamber of Commerce and Mark Zuckerberg’s FWD.us.
Creating a new deferred action program for parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents
According to reports from the New York Times, the scope of this plan is still being debated; however, even the least generous version would give more than 2 million immigrants a pathway to legal status, with as many as 5 million becoming eligible. The difference is due to the minimum required residency period – the longer the required period of stay, the fewer people will be eligible. This is certain to be the most controversial aspect of any changes to immigration policy.
Providing a discount for the first 10,000 applicants for Naturalization under the new system
Supposedly a “promotion” to encourage Naturalization applications, this aspect of the plan is so bewildering that it calls into question the credibility of the Fox News anonymous source. This “promotion” has not been reported elsewhere.
Despite the leaks and speculation, the Obama administration has reiterated that no plan is in place, and that no date has been chosen for an announcement. Parties on all sides of this issue (including the White House) have incentives to selectively “leak” or “float” various aspects of these plans. Until the formal unveiling (or at least until on-the-record comments are made substantiating the rumors), any firm details about plan specifics should be taken as provisional (at best). If there is something solid to take away from this latest round of reporting, it is that changes will be announced soon – as early as next week, and no later than the end of the year.
President Obama, seen here not announcing changes to immigration policy (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).