WASHINGTON, April 22, 2014 — The Obama Administration is considering changes to its current deportation policy, which would shield some immigrants from being forced to leave the country.
According to AP, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is evaluating whether to limit deportations of illegal immigrants who have lived in the United States for long periods of time and do not have any significant criminal arrests or convictions.
The change is the result of a review ordered by President Barack Obama on how to make deportation policy more humane. Obama, who has championed immigration reform throughout his two-terms in office, has had little success in changing the current laws.
Under Obama, approximately 200,000,000 immigrants have been deported. Of those, approximately 20% were individuals who had committed serious crimes. The remaining 80% were individuals who had committed minor infractions, such as traffic violations, or those with no criminal record of any kind.
The Department of Homeland Security told the press, “Any report of specific considerations at this time would be premature.”
Activists say the proposed changes fall short of true immigration reform and are calling for Obama to take broader steps. Specifically, they are asking the White House to expand a program that grants work permits to certain groups to include parents of any children born in the United States.
Opponents, however, will likely rail against even the possibility of changes to the deportation policies. Republican members of Congress, and some Democrats, have barred major immigration reform.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex) has continually urged against immigration reform, opposing any pathway for citizenship for illegals, and says there should not even be an immigration reform debate until 2015. He almost certainly will attack the President over the proposed changes, again leading a charge against loosening current policies.
There is some hint that immigration reform could still happen this year. Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that House Speaker John Boehner told a group of donors in Las Vegas he was “hellbent” on passing immigration reform “this year.” However, this contradicts his previous assertions that the House will not even discuss immigration reform until President Obama “can be trusted to enforce our laws.”
The suggestion that the Obama Administration is reconsidering the deportation policy, however, indicates that the President believes Congress will not address immigration reform any time soon. The Administration almost certainly knows that taking unilateral action will further entrench Republicans, making any compromise on the issue unlikely.
Immigration reform remains a hot-button topic and will likely reemerge as the 2016 presidential election nears. Jeb Bush reignited the debate last week, saying that most immigrants who cross the border to find work are not engaged in an act of hostility. Instead, he said, “It’s an act of love; it’s an act of commitment to your family.”
Hillary Clinton has made no secret of her views on immigration reform. Last week in New York, she told a group at the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation “No Ceilings” initiative, “I’m a huge supporter of immigration reform and a path to citizenship and will continue to advocate for that.”
A late March CBS News poll shows that 68 percent of respondents say undocumented workers should at least be able to stay in the United States. 56 percent of those respondents say that the immigrants should be allowed to apply for citizenship.