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Presidents and Precedents: Executive Authority on Immigration

All presidents, Republican or Democrat, have acted without the Congress
by Lou Dubose

Jan 1, 2015 | Legal Affairs



1956 Dwight Eisenhower paroled 923 foreign-born orphans.

1956 Eisenhower granted immigration parole to 31,915 Hungarians.

1959-1972 Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon paroled 621,403 Cubans.

1962-1965 Kennedy and Johnson paroled 15,000 Chinese refugees.

1975-1979 Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, in 10 separate actions, paroled 360,000 Indochinese from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

1976 Ford extended voluntary departure status to an estimated 14,000 refugees from Lebanon.

1977 Carter suspended exclusion of 500,000 immigrants incorrectly admitted to the country on a State Department error while legislation that would have affected them was filed in Congress.

1977-1982 Carter and Ronald Reagan granted voluntary departure status to 15,000-plus Ethiopian refugees.

1977-1980 Carter provided immigration parole for 500,000-plus Soviet refugees.

1978 Carter granted extended voluntary departure to an unknown number of Ugandans.

1979 Carter provided extended voluntary departure status for 3,600 refugees from Nicaragua.

1979 Carter provided extended voluntary departure status for an unknown number of Iranians.

1980 Carter provided extended voluntary departure status for an unknown number of Afghans.

1980 Carter paroled 123,000 Cubans who arrived by the Mariel Boat Lift.

1981-1987 Ronald Reagan granted extended voluntary departure status to 7,000 Poles.

1987 Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese directed INS not to deport as many as 200,000 Nicaraguans and to grant them work authorizations—even if they were denied asylum.

1987 Reagan legalized children of 100,000 families of noncitizens.

1989 George H.W. Bush ordered deferred action for 80,000 Chinese, following a Chinese government crackdown on Tiananmen Square dissidents.

1989 Bush paroled 7,225 Soviets and Indochinese refugees after they were denied refugee status.

1990 Bush granted deferred enforced departure to 80,000 Chinese.

1990 Bush deferred deportation of unauthorized 1.5 million spouses and children of individuals legalized under 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act—while reform legislation was pending.

1991 Bush granted deferred enforced departure to Persian Gulf refuges after 1990 Kuwait invasion.

1992 Bush and Bill Clinton extended deferred departure status to 199,000 Salvadorans.

1997 Clinton granted deferred action to an open class of women who might win relief through the Violence Against Women Act.

1998 Clinton Attorney General Janet Reno temporarily suspended deportations of 150,000 citizens of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, in response to Hurricane Mitch.

1998 Clinton granted deferred enforced departure status for 40,000 Haitians in the U.S. since before 1995.

2002 George W. Bush issued an executive order granting expedited naturalization for all green-card holders who enlisted in military.

2005 Bush deferred action for foreign academic students affected by Hurricane Katrina.

2006 Bush established Cuban Medical Parole Program, allowing any Cuban doctor conscripted to serve outside Cuba to apply for parole at U.S. embassies.

2009 Bush granted deferred enforced departure to an unknown number of Liberians in the country since 2007 whose legal status had statutorily expired.

Source: American Immigration Council

Lou Dubose is the editor of The Washington Spectator.

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