The latest: Mini-DREAM Act via executive order.
Essentially this: The president has declared the following--
Under the administration plan, illegal immigrants will be immune from deportation if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED, or served in the military. They also can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on how many times it can be renewed. The officials who described the plan spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss it in advance of the official announcement.This is a bold move.
Why? Why Is It Bold?
The move has drawn howls of outrage (and cries of Tyrant!) from the right. It plays into the narrative that Obama is some kind of dictator doing whatever he wants regardless of what the populace thinks ... or what the constitution says. It also introduces the previously undocumented workers into the labor force. That's presumed to hurt Obama with working-class whites in the crucial swing-state of Ohio where, presumably, the new competition of the labor pool will persuade out-of-work whites to vote against Obama.
On the other hand, the very-important Latino voting bloc in, for example, Florida will be more mobilized to turn out for him. This also can have the effect of painting Romney into a corner: if he comes out against it he loses worse with Latinos. If he comes out for it, he hurts himself with the base. He has to work with Marco Rubio closely on this and that has some issues as well (if he chooses Rubio as a running-mate he has to contend with (a) the fact that Rubio was a Mormon earlier in life (b) some portion of the base thinks Rubio isn't qualified to be President since he's not "natural-born" under the strictest possible interpretation of the clause, and (c) some portion of the base sees a Rubio-choice as pandering ... which is what they hate in Democrats).
What Do I Think?
The 2012 ground-game: registration and then Get Out The Vote is going to be super-duper-important given that the media will be saturated with attack ads. Florida is very slightly pro-Romney so a heavy Latino turn-out could swing that. This is a good move since, if Obama locks up Florida Romney is in deep trouble EV-wise.
On the other hand, there is good possibility of blow-back on this one: Immigration is a hot-button issue and the narrative that Obama is doing things without congress (however true or not that is) is already in the water. So I don't think it's without risk. Obama, being the President, has several tools Romney does not have--using them is smart electoral politics. Team Obama may have a hard time finding a slogan to run on but I think this shows their nose for political dramatics is still pretty keen.