The president "chose confrontation over conciliation" Thursday as he asserted his executive authority to reshape the nation’s immigration system and all but dared members of next year’s Republican-controlled Congress to reverse his actions, says The New York Times.
Although Obama isn't breaking new ground by using executive powers to carve out a quasi-legal status for certain categories of unauthorized immigrants — GOP Presidents Eisenhower, Reagan and George H. W. Bush did so — his decision will affect far more people than those presidents' moves did, says a separate Times article.
Obama’s action also is a far more extensive reshaping of the nation’s immigration system, says the Times.
In an acknowledgment of the difficult questions of law and executive power Obama is raising with his action, the White House took the unusual step Thursday night of releasing the formal, 33-page Justice Department memo detailing the action’s legal underpinnings.
Such internal legal opinions seldom are made public, says the NYT.
The centerpiece of the president’s announcement is a new program for unauthorized immigrants who are the parents of U.S. citizens.
About four million people will be eligible for a new legal status that will defer deportation and allow them to work legally. They'll have to pass background checks and pay taxes, but they'll receive Social Security cards.