[Excerpt] On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced his Immigration Accountability Executive Action which revises some U.S. immigration policies and initiates several programs, including a revised border security policy for the Southwest border; deferred action programs for some unauthorized aliens; revised interior enforcement priorities; changes to aid the entry of skilled workers; the promotion of immigrant integration and naturalization; and several other initiatives the President indicated would improve the U.S. immigration system. The most controversial among these provisions will grant deferred action to as many as 5 million unauthorized aliens. The President announced the executive action through ten Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memoranda, two White House memoranda, and three Department of Labor (DOL) fact sheets.
According to the President, the actions were taken in response to the absence of legislation addressing major problems within the immigration system. The President has stated that his actions are temporary, and that his successor can rescind them. Those opposed to the executive actions argue they were taken largely for political purposes. They contend that once granted, such temporary measures would be difficult to revoke. Separately, a debate has arisen as to whether the President has the legal authority to take such actions, with the Administration and others arguing the President’s actions fall within his authority, and many in Congress arguing the President has overstepped it. That debate and its attendant legal questions are beyond the scope of this report. As the Administration proceeds to implement the executive actions, some in Congress have vowed to halt some or all of them.