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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Executive Immigration Action Timing and Content Debated

President Obama's expected executive action with regard to the Central American border crisis and legal immigration reform is now the subject of media speculation as to both timing and content.

The political timing of such an announcement has reportedly been the subject of debate within the White House. Democratic candidates running in Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina and Iowa may be adversely affected by a pre-election immigration executive order that would be unpopular with voters in those states. Loss of Democratic control of the Senate would result in Republican control of both houses of Congress. Such a situation would create new problems for the President for the rest of his second term.

Nevertheless, the Administration is committed to addressing the border crisis and a legal immigration system that is badly in need of an overhaul. After President Obama's June 30, 2014 remarks that he would use his executive powers to address immigration issues that Congress did not resolve, business and other interest groups have been meeting with the White House with reform wish lists.

Business groups have requested overhaul measures for the legal workforce.  One proposal would exclude dependents from the numerical cap on employment-based green cards, which is now 140,000 a year. The change could, in effect, double the number of green cards available. A second proposal would "recapture" unused employment green cards from previous years, which could produce more than 200,000 new green cards.