Obama’s Immigration Action Has Precedents, but May Set a New One
By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVISNOV. 20, 2014
President Obama’s action to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation and grant them work permits opens a new front in the decades-long debate over the scope of presidential authority.
Although Mr. Obama is not breaking new ground by using executive powers to carve out a quasi-legal status for certain categories of unauthorized immigrants — the Republican Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush all did so — his decision will affect as many as five million immigrants, far more than the actions of those presidents.
Mr. Obama’s action is also a far more extensive reshaping of the nation’s immigration system.
“The magnitude and the formality of it is arguably unprecedented,” said Peter J. Spiro, a Temple University law professor. “It’s fair to say that we have never seen anything quite like this before in terms of the scale.”