Could Obama and Napolitano enact a mini-amnesty... without Congress?
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Immigration lawyers Gary Endelman and Cyrus Mehta offer "The Path Less Taken: Is There An Alternative To Waiting For Comprehensive Immigration Reform?" (link) Evaluating their claims is left for those intimately familiar with immigration law, but here's the editor's summary:
...The article argues that there is ample room in the Immigration and Nationality Act, for the Executive Branch, acting alone and without Congress, to take decisive curative action. The key is to separate permanent residency from the two critical benefits that flow therefrom - legal work authorization and ability to travel. Both of these benefits can be made available, by Executive fiat, to millions of immigrants - both present and future, immediately, without any act of Congress. Once these benefits are in hand, Congress can grant permanent residency and citizenship, when the time is propitious, without being held hostage by the anti-immigrationists. This article explores how the once-unthinkable can be achieved lawfully through the enlightened use of President Obama's and Secretary Napolitano's inherent discretionary authority under the current statutory regime...
Who knows whether Obama would be crazy enough - or actually cares about the subject enough - to do something like this, but it's something to keep an eye on. The authors also say this:
It appears that Janet Napolitano... is thinking of permitting adjustment of status applications to be filed before the priority date becomes current. Take a look at her January 30, 2009 Action Directive on immigration and border security. In pertinent part, Secretary Napolitano spoke of "information sharing with the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs on projected adjustment caseloads to be used by that Bureau in setting each month's cutoff dates on waiting lists for immigration categories that are limited by a yearly quota" and went on to pose this very intriguing question: "What regulatory or legislative changes (including a possible pre-application filing procedure for adjustment cases) are recommended to facilitate caseload planning and make optimum use of US Citizenship and Immigration Services' adjudication capacity?