Behind the Scenes: What Broke Barack Obama?

Behind the scenes.
Behind the scenes.

A new article in The Atlantic provides a behind-the-scenes look at President Barack Obama’s meeting last week with immigrant rights supporters. The June 30 meeting was followed by the president’s announcement that he will be taking executive action to address immigration reform.

The president told the advocates about John Boehner’s statement that immigration reform was dead this year, but that it had a good chance of passage in the next Congress. He also mentioned that Boehner had asked the president not to take executive action in the interim because it would only stir up Republican opposition to legislative reform. Obama’s response was simply, “Sorry about that. I’m going to keep my promise and move forward with executive action soon.”

Obama told advocates that he intends to act soon to halt many deportations of non-criminal immigrants and to provide legal documentation to millions of the undocumented. He also said he would take quick action to increase border enforcement.

According to the article:

Obama made it clear he would press his executive powers to the limit. He gave quiet credence to recommendations from La Raza and other immigration groups that between 5 million to 6 million adult illegal immigrants could be spared deportation under a similar form of deferred adjudication he ordered for the so-called Dreamers in June 2012.

The 2012 program for DREAMers, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), has provided work permits to 670,000 young immigrants over the last two years.

The article says that lawyers at the Justice and Homeland Security departments are already at work preparing the legal rationale for increasing the coverage of a DACA-like program “by a factor of 10.” According to the author, “Senior officials also tell me Obama wants to see what he can do with executive power to provide temporary legal status to undocumented adults.”

The announcement of this major new program could come before the end of the summer.