Leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are calling on President Obama to act unilaterally to grant amnesty to seven million illegal immigrants.
That number is larger than the one the Obama administration is reportedly considering as it also weighs whether to act in the lame-duck congressional session.
“The president has the legal authority and moral imperative to provide relief for over 7 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the shadows,” wrote Arizona U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva and Minnesota U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison in a memo to Obama, which Politico obtained.
“This memo contains our requests for a new affirmative relief program and an expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program,” the Democrats wrote, citing Obama’s 2012 executive action which granted amnesty to children who were brought to the U.S. illegally.
Obama has repeatedly threatened to act unilaterally on the issue if Congress failed to put an immigration bill on his desk to sign.
Republican Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions suggested during the summer that Obama wanted to grant amnesty to between 5 million and 6 million illegal immigrants. Immigration activists hoped relief would be given to at least 8 million. More recent reports have suggested that the administration’s plan will grant amnesty to around 3 million. Obama has not made clear his current target.
In their memo, Ellison and Grijalvi are calling for relief for individuals who would have qualified under the so-called “Gang of Eight” bill.
The Democrats request extending amnesty to family members of U.S. citizens, “lawful” permanent residents, individuals who have lived in the U.S. for three years or more, those who are “regularly employed,” and illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. after the age of 18 but would otherwise qualify under the DACA educational requirements.
Doing all of that would extend amnesty to approximately four million individuals, according to statistics the Democratic lawmakers cite from the Migration Policy Institute.
“The program should take into consideration those aspiring citizens who have contributed to their communities and have established a strong work history, regardless of familial ties,” the memo reads.
The lawmakers also push for a relaxation of what they call DACA’s “restrictive eligibility requirements” which “exclude a substantial amount of individuals.”
They suggest eliminating barriers for educational requirements as well as getting rid of upper and lower age limits. Currently, relief is granted under DACA to individuals who are either currently enrolled in school, have earned a GED, or have graduated. DACA recipients must also have been under 31-years-old as of June 15, 2012.
In the memo, the progressives suggest pushing the cut-off date requirement for entry from June 15, 2012 to Sept. 1, 2012. They also call for a change to the continuous presence requirement to two years from the current requirement that DACA recipeients must have been living in the U.S. continually since June 15, 2007.
Enacting these measures would grant amnesty to another 3 million individuals, according to the Migration Policy Institute.