Could Obama declare an immigration amnesty by executive order?
[See the updates too]
Back in Feb. 2009 we offered Could Obama and Napolitano enact a mini-amnesty... without Congress? about a scheme cooked up by two immigration lawyers under which the president could in effect give amnesty to large numbers of illegal aliens. Now, some inside the USCIS are proposing their own workarounds and loopholes under which Barack Obama could give thousands (or more) of illegal aliens legal status.
Certainly, just because some in the USCIS are proposing these schemes doesn't mean that Obama would support them or be "crazy" enough to think he could get away with them, and some have pointed out that the likelihood of him declaring some sort of limited amnesty this way is slim.
On the other hand, the Obama administration recently sued the state of Arizona and in effect won, and there hasn't been anywhere near the pushback there should have been over that; compare what's happened to what should have happened. The Obama administration knows that most of their loudest opposition is either corrupt, corruptible, or incompetent; they've so far managed to get away with suing Arizona, why not try to get away with declaring some sort of amnesty?
A group of Republican senators has written to top immigration officials in the Obama administration asking them to reveal whether large-scale plans are under way to provide a so-called non-legislative version of amnesty.
The lawmakers cite an 11-page draft document written by staff to the director of the Citizenship and Immigration Service that says they are reviewing several executive orders and other mechanisms that effectively would serve as a substitute for comprehensive immigration reforms.
The objective would be to promote “family unity, foster economic growth … and reduce the threat of removal for certain individuals present in the United States without authorization."
Among the suggestions, the document offers proposals for rewriting legal opinions to allow unaccompanied minors, victims of human trafficking or extreme hardship and others who've overstayed their visas to remain in the U.S.
UPDATE: Robert Gibbs appeared on Fox News (link) and said he hasn't seen the memo. He didn't explicitly say they have no such plans, only that the Obama administration thinks comprehensive immigration reform is the best way to go. It's difficult to believe what little he said since in addition to supporting "reform" he used at least three talking points: secure the border, immigration line, and reform not amnesty. Somewhat surprisingly, Steve Doocy appeared to be aware of the word games associated with the latter, although neither he nor his co-host really pressed Gibbs to denounce the memo.
UPDATE 2: The full memo is here.