President Barack Obama announced a set of executive orders in late November that laid out a set of prosecutorial discretion guidelines for the nearly 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.
These executive orders, which are allowed in U.S. law because they pertain to how laws are enforced instead of creating a new law, follow a similar order from 2012.
The newest program is called Deferred Action for Parents, which allows parents of U.S. permanent residents and citizens to get a job legally and avoid deportation for at least three years or more depending on how Congress acts.
The name of the program echoes the 2012 executive order called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allowed undocumented immigrants who came into the United States as children to get legal employment and to avoid deportation for two years (extended to three in the newest executive orders).
President Obama created the orders as a catalyst for the U.S. Congress, as it has struggled to create comprehensive reform during the president’s administration. The U.S. Congress is the only part of the government that can create permanent residency and citizenship laws.
The president received a great deal of criticism from conservative members of congress and the media who claimed that the executive orders were a form of amnesty.
Immigration amnesty is the practice of granting status to undocumented immigrants, an action that only Congress can take.
Obama’s executive orders do not grant status to undocumented immigrants, but rather is an agreement that allows recipients to live in the United States without fear of deportation, or enforced removal from the country’s borders.
Supporters of immigration reform saw flaws in the announcements as well in that it overlooked the parents of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Supporters of the executive orders say that the new policies will allow already productive members of society to further contribute to the nation.
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