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Report: Since Eisenhower, Executive Action Used for Immigration

Executive action has been used for immigrants by presidents Eisenhower to Obama, according to a recent report.
Image: George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush
President George W. Bush, poses with President-elect Barack Obama, and former presidents, from left, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. J. Scott Applewhite / AP

When President Barack Obama takes executive action to make immigration reforms, he will be following the lead of several other presidents, an immigration group said in a recently released report.

The report by the American Immigration Council states that every U.S. president since at least 1956 has granted temporary immigration relief of some form.

The following are some highlights, in chronological order, of the council's chart:

  • 1956 – President Dwight D. Eisenhower used executive authority to “parole” 923 foreign-born orphans into the custody of U.S. military families seeking to adopt them.
  • 1959-72 – Presidents Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon used executive powers to parole into the U.S. a majority of 621,403 Cuban asylum seekers fleeing the Cuban revolution. The Cuban Adjustment Act was pending in Congress at the time.
  • 1976 – President Gerald Ford granted so-called extended voluntary departure to protect from deportation an unknown number of Lebanese who fled Lebanon for the U.S. They also were provided work permission.
  • 1980 – President Jimmy Carter paroled 123,000 Cubans and Haitians into the U.S. during the Mariel boatliff.
  • 1987 - President Ronald Reagan deferred deportation for children in more than 100,000 families if the parents of the families were gaining legal status under the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, IRCA, that granted legalization to about three million immigrants.
  • 1990 – President George H. Bush used executive powers to defer deportations of up to 1.5 million spouses and children of people legalized under IRCA.
  • 1992 – Presidents George H. Bush and Bill Clinton granted stays of deportation to about 190,000 Salvadorans whose temporary protected status that allowed them to live and work in the U.S. had expired.
  • 2002 – President George W. Bush expedited naturalization for green card holders who enlisted in the military, eliminating a three year wait. No numbers of how many affected was available.
  • 2012 – President Barack Obama used executive power to defer deportations for up to 1.8 million young immigrants in the U.S. illegally.