The proposed regulations aren't available yet so it's unclear how the back taxes would be calculated. The President emphasizes that work authorization will not allow these undocumented aliens to be eligible for benefits under the Affordable Care Act; however, under current law they cannot be denied health care when they show up for emergency care at a hospital based on whether they have insurance or are able to pay for their health care.
The President is also expanding his earlier deferred action program for childhood arrivals known as DACA for so-called Dreamers. That program offers deferred action with work authorization for period of two years, subject to reauthorization, for undocumented aliens who arrived in the country prior to their 16th birthday on or before June 15, 2007, had obtained or were obtaining an education and had remained continuously in the U.S. for five years. The President is upping the authorization period for DACA beneficiaries from two to three years and expanding its coverage to include those who arrived on or before June 15, 2010.
Gov. Mike Pence reacted sharply to the President's announcement, suggesting he may join other state executives in challenging the legality of President Obama's executive authority to change current immigration laws and policies.
“Tonight the President announced his plan to by-pass Congress by issuing an executive order changing American immigration laws. While reasonable people can differ on ways to improve our nation’s broken immigration system, the President's unilateral action is an unacceptable end run around the democratic process and must be reversed. The proper place to debate immigration policy is through the legislative process defined in our Constitution. The State of Indiana will carefully evaluate the details of the Executive Order and take any available legal actions necessary to restore the rule of law and proper balance to our constitutional system of government.”
Gov. Pence's office tells the Indianapolis Star it has started discussions with Attorney General Greg Zoeller's office on potential legal action the state might take in opposing the President's executive actions. It's not just Republicans complaining about Obama's action. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) is not happy with President Obama either. "I am frustrated as anyone that Congress is not doing its job, but the president shouldn't make such significant policy changes on his own, "Donnelly told the Star.
There are many other changes the President is proposing to make, including changes to make it easier for employment-based immigration applications to be approved and expanding investor-related visas and national interest waivers. The President also plans to make it easier for undocumented aliens with qualifying U.S. citizen relatives to obtain hardship waivers to allow them to become permanent residents, as well as expanding changes previously made to benefit those undocumented aliens to include spouses and children of lawful permanent residents.
Law enforcement will not like the President's proposed changes on enforcement. He plans to do away with the Secure Communities program under which detainers are placed on aliens who have been arrested. The detainers required local law enforcement to hold aliens being released from jail until they could be picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE"), processed and given a Notice to Appear before an immigration court for hearing on their legal status in this country. Detainers are expected to be replaced with notifications to ICE when incarcerated aliens are about to be released by local law enforcement. The administration is supposed to release a very strongly-worded memo regarding the exercise of prosecutorial discretion to avoid many removal proceedings that are initiated under existing laws and policies.
UPDATE: The Associated Press fact-checked some of the claims Obama made during his address last night. True to form, he lived up to Jack Cashill's "YOU LIE" tag.
OBAMA: “It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive. Only Congress can do that. All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you.”
THE FACTS: He’s saying, and doing, more than that. The changes also will make those covered eligible for work permits, allowing them to be employed in the country legally and compete with citizens and legal residents for better-paying jobs.
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OBAMA: “Although this summer, there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children being apprehended at our border, the number of such children is now actually lower than it’s been in nearly two years.”
THE FACTS: The numbers certainly surged this year, but it was more than a “brief spike.” The number of unaccompanied children apprehended at the border has been on the rise since the 2011 budget year. That year, about 16,000 children were found crossing the border alone. In 2012, the Border Patrol reported more than 24,000 children, followed by more than 38,800 in 2013. In the last budget year, more than 68,361 children were apprehended.
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OBAMA: “Overall, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s. Those are the facts.”
THE FACTS: Indeed, in the 2014 budget year ending Sept. 30 the Border Patrol made 486,651 arrests of border crossers, among the fewest since the early 1970s. But border arrests have been on the rise since 2011.
The decline in crossings is not purely, or perhaps even primarily, because of the Obama administration. The deep economic recession early in his presidency and the shaky aftermath made the U.S. a less attractive place to come for work. The increase in arrests since 2011 also can be traced in part to the economy – as the recovery improved, more people came in search of opportunity.
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OBAMA: “When I took office, I committed to fixing this broken immigration system. And I began by doing what I could to secure our borders.”
THE FACTS: He overlooked the fact that he promised as a candidate for president in 2008 to have an immigration bill during his first year in office and move forward on it quickly. He never kept that promise to the Latino community.