Sen. Kamala D. Harris announced plans Wednesday for an executive amnesty for illegal immigrants, saying if elected president she would use executive powers to put “Dreamers” on a full path to citizenship.
The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate said she would go beyond President Obama’s 2012 deportation amnesty, which protected some Dreamers from removal, and clear obstacles in the law that make illegal immigrants unable to adjust their status from within the U.S.
She said if Dreamers can prove family or business ties, as many as two million of them could be eligible for citizenship rights under her plans.
“Dreamers cannot afford to sit around and wait for Congress to get its act together. Their lives are on the line,” she said in a statement announcing her plans.
Her plan would grant “parole-in-place” to Dreamers, which would amount to a formal admittance to people who were never actually admitted to the U.S. She said she would then issue a rule defining illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children “through no fault of [their] own” eligible for full legal status, and will erase any past illegal work histories.
She would then expand the definition of “extreme hardship” to include any illegal immigrant with a family member here in the U.S., allowing Dreamers with family here to join an existing but limited exemption for earning a green card.
In a statement released by Ms. Harris’ campaign, immigrant-rights activists, including architects of Mr. Obama’s 2012 DACA program, said her plan is innovative but legal.
That doesn’t mean it won’t face legal challenges, as Mr. Obama’s more limited DACA program did.
Judges split on the legality of DACA, though no federal court ever blocked it from taking effect. Courts did, though, block a broader amnesty Mr. Obama attempted in 2014.