Why Administrative Action on Immigration Would Benefit American Workers

idea light bulbLast week, President Barack Obama announced that after a year of Republicans in the House of Representatives blocking immigration reform, he would begin his own efforts to fix the country’s immigration system. The president said that he asked Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder to recommend what steps he can take.

A recent report by the Center for American Progress outlines some of the executive actions President Obama should consider in order to repair our broken immigration system. The most significant action would expand temporary protection from deportation to certain undocumented immigrants—for example, individuals who have committed no crimes and have lived and worked in the United States for at least 10 years. In order to be eligible for this type of temporary protection, the individual would be required to register with the government, undergo criminal and national security background checks, and request the exercise of administrative discretion—a temporary reprieve from deportation that grants a work permit.

The upsides to such deferred action are numerous. It would enhance our security by bringing a broader swath of the immigrant population into the legal fold, enabling law-enforcement authorities to more effectively target their resources toward those who pose a threat to public safety. It would also lay the groundwork for future legislative reforms by starting the process of registering the undocumented population, a central—and likely inevitable—component of immigration reform.

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