Immigration Reform

Applying for Immigration Action Could Begin in Mid-February

Image: Democratic Senators Speak On President's Executive Order On Immigration

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 10: (L-R) Barbara Silva, from Las Vegas, Astrid Silva, student and immigration activist from Nevada, Madai Ledezma, 32, from Mexico, now living in Maryland, and her daughter Heather Pina-Ledezma, 6, listen to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) speak during a news conference to discuss U.S. President Barack Obama's executive order on immigration, on Capitol Hill, December 10, 2014 in Washington, DC. President Obama traveled to Nashville, Tennessee on Tuesday, where he defended his actions on immigration and again called on Congress to pass an immigration bill. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Shortly after House Speaker John Boehner promised on Thursday to challenge President Barack Obama's immigration executive action, White House officials detailed how they plan to move forward on it.

Immigrants should be able to start applying for deportation relief and work permits in the middle of May and February, Leon Rodriguez, Citizenship and Immigration Services director told Spanish-speaking reporters in a conference call.

First up will be those applying for expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. Then, parents of U.S. citizens and legal resident children should be able to begin applying in May.

Despite discussions about blocking the president's action, "we are very confident that this is completely legal and it is going to be carried out," Cecilia Muñoz, Obama's chief domestic policy adviser, told reporters in a telephone news conference for Latino media.

Earlier in a news conference, Boehner, R-Ohio, included challenging Obama's immigration executive action among priorities for the next Congress. The GOP will be in control of both chambers next year.

"We'll take this fight to the president …," Boehner said.

Gallup's latest daily tracking poll shows Americans disapprove, 51 percent to 41 percent, with Obama's use of executive action on immigration. But Latinos and blacks overwhelmingly approve, 64 percent to 28 percent for Latinos and 68 percent to 24 percent for blacks, according to Gallup.

Boehner Promises 'Direct Challenge' to Obama's Actions on Immigration 1:03

Other key points the White House officials made about executive action:

  • Nothing is in place now. To avoid being swindled, potential applicants should be wary of anyone offering to help them apply. Application rules will be published on the CIS website.
  • People outside the country do not qualify and all immigrants who recently arrived illegally will be considered priorities for deportation. Those eligible must have lived in the country continuously since Jan. 1, 2010 and meet other criteria.
  • A provision in immigration law that allows spouses, parents and minor children of U.S. citizen residents to apply for legal residency without leaving the country for long periods will be expanded to include adult children of U.S. citizens and legal residents and spouses and minor children of legal residents as part of the executive order. New guidelines will be issued expanding the definition of "extreme hardship" that has to be shown to qualify for this provision.
  • Those applying for naturalization will be able to pay application fees with a credit card.
  • People who receive deportation relief will be allowed to travel in certain circumstances but will have to apply for that opportunity.
  • Many of the people eligible for the deportation relief are not people who would normally be considered priorities for removal from the country since they generally would not have criminal records.
  • People who apply by 2015 should get their three-year deportation deferrals by 2016.
  • The administration is assembling a list of acceptable and required documentation to prove eligibility.

_ NBC News Latino Editor Sandra Lilley contributed to this report.