According to a recent report in The Hill, a few Democratic lawmakers are confident we have a president willing to use executive authority to further loosen the waiver of inadmissibility process, even while Congress gingerly inches forward on a framework for comprehensive immigration reform. “Four million of the undocumented are people who overstayed their visas to stay with family. So that would be, I think, an area in which there’s a great deal of executive authority that he could deal with” said Rep. Raul Grijava (D-Ariz.), who heads the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
This is wishful thinking, a rogue cannonball across the channel to the fortress on the right from the fortress on the left. But the statement does telegraph current high-level discussion of potential administrative action loosening the stateside waiver process, if Congress gets bogged down in stonewalling and acrimony and the president becomes so inclined.
In the recent DHS transition to stateside I-601 processing, a large pool of immigrants with family separation and hardship claims as defenses to removal from the U.S. were moved into a provisional administrative holding area that is essentially one procedural gateway from opening. Would Obama begin to open that gate, absent Congressional consensus on the larger framework? Would he do so absent agreement and a demonstration of national comity on the critically unresolved issue, a pathway to U.S. citizenship?
These are compelling policy issues with serious social consequences. A 21st Century immigration framework is nearing definition. Parameters are under negotiation. Pathways are forming. Unrealistic rhetoric and threats from policy diehards to undermine the Constitutional process, laboring along as slowly as ever but finally showing real signs of life, are unwelcome. President Obama, wielding such a mighty pen, would surely agree. Or would he? Let the regenesis continue.