President Obama will Create New Program to Shield 5 Million Immigrants from Deportation

In a speech tonight that will be broadcast by many television stations, President Obama will announce  a new program that will shield up to five million undocumented immigrants from deportation, according to an article in today’s New York Times. The newspaper reports that:

  1. Four million undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for five years will be covered by the program.
  2. Those with no criminal record will be allowed to work legally.
  3. Another one million people will be protected from deportation through other parts of the program, including an expansion of the existing program for young immigrants who came to the U.S. as children – the so-called “Dreamers.”
  4. Farm workers and the parents of Dreamers will not be covered by the program.
  5. The immigrants covered by the plan will not be eligible for health benefits, food stamps, or other need-based federal programs.

However, as the New York Times report has appeared before the official announcement, it should be viewed with caution. The president’s speech tonight will provide a more definitive picture of the program.

Republican politicians have denounced the President for creating the program without Congressional approval, saying that he has vastly exceeded the authority given to him by law. However, the action does appear to be legal. A Spanish language explanation of the legal justification for the President’s acts can be found in an article in yesterday’s issue of Hoy (Los Angeles edition). An article on the Washington Post’s website also explains the legal concepts behind the executive action.