NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - On Thursday, President Barack Obama is expected to announce proposed executive orders designed to protect as many as 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation. Republicans say it's a move that will poison the president's relations with the new congress.
Richard Fischer, an immigration lawyer in Nacogdoches, has been studying immigration laws for more than three decades. He said immigration reform is past due.
"The last time congress changed the immigration laws was in 2000, which was almost 14 years ago," Fischer said.
Recently, there has been a lot of pressure from immigrant rights groups and lobbyists to make some changes. Obama delayed immigration reform until after the mid-term elections.
"The president decided that he was going to put off doing anything until after the election, so immigration reform wouldn't be an election issue," Fischer said.
Now presidential action is imminent. With the president expected to announce his executive orders Thursday, Fischer believes he has an idea of what the president will do, based on a plan from 2012.
"Which was give people who qualify and had been here for a number of years and didn't have criminal records work permits," Fischer said. "Which were valid for two year and then renewable."
The Obama Administration says the eligible immigrants who would qualify for these work permits would not be entitled to federal benefits under the plan. The administration also says they have not finalized the plans on immigration reform.
Many Republicans believe the president is over-reaching his powers. However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a press conference Tuesday, President Obama is not doing anything presidents before him haven't done.
"Every president since President Eisenhower has done executive orders as it relates to immigration," Reid.
"The president has been trying to get congress to pass immigration reform for years, but congress won't do it," Fischer said. "The Republicans in the House just say no."
"Now Reagan, Bush and Bush - they've done it and we didn't hear a single word come from the Republicans that they didn't like that," Reid said. "So why now is this suddenly an issue with the Republicans?"
The Republicans are firing back. Some are threatening to pursue a government shutdown if the president acts this year.