We're starting to get a hint of just what President Obama's 'big action in immigration' that he has been vowing to take might look like.
U.S. Rep Henry Cuellar (D-Tx) who is one of the leaders in Congress on the immigration issue, says the President is considering offering work permits for some of the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are already in the U.S.
"If they are going to stay here, I would much rather having them working and paying taxes while we wait for the full immigration reform," Cuellar told Newsradio 1200 WOAI's Michael Board.
The President has been hinting that he will use his 'a pen and a phone' executive authority to make major changes to immigration law in the wake of Congress being unable to reach agreement on some sort of immigration reform. The flood of Central American immigrants rushing into south Texas this summer succeeded in capsizing any hope that the House would approve an immigration reform measure of any sort, as mainstream voices join conservatives and Tea Party members calling for quicker deportations and tighter border security.
"That is what we were planning to do under out immigration reform proposal,"Cuellar said. "It was to have full work permits for people who are already here, but no amnesty.”
Cuellar says the work permits would not grand the undocumented immigrants citizenship, which most of them do not want, nor would it be an open ended entitlement to stay in the U.S. Cuellar didn’t now if the undocumented people would have to pay a fine in exchange for the work permits.
He did say allowing undocumented individuals to work in the U.S. legally would be a boost to the U.S. economy.
“I have seen reports that show if those folks start paying taxes, it would be a boost to our economy,” he said.
Cuellar said any type of ‘amnesty,’ was it decried by conservatives, would not be within President Obama’s authority to grant.
Opponents of the President, mainly on the Republican side, say any unilateral attempt to grand legal status to people in the U.S. illegally would be an 'illegal overreach' on the part of the President.