President Obama will soon announce an executive action to defer the deportations of somewhere between 1 million and 4.5 million unauthorized immigrants. Those whose deportations are deferred will be eligible for a temporary work permit through a 1987 provision in the Code of Federal Regulations.
Those who support immigration reform note that any executive action by the President will poison the well for reform, making it impossible for Congress to move piecemeal bills to the President’s desk. Last year, one of the most effective arguments against immigration reform was that President Obama would not enforce the law as written, a prediction that seems to be borne out with this executive action. The Wall Street Journal editorial board said it the best:
If he does issue an executive order, we hope Republicans don’t fall for his political trap. He and many Democrats want Republicans to appear to be anti-immigrant. They want the GOP to dance to the Steve King-Jeff Sessions blow-a-gasket caucus.
To poison the well of reform there actually had to be water in the well to begin with. I’m not convinced there was. If there was a serious Congressional effort to reform immigration in the immediate future, then the President’s actions here would totally derail it.