There are many accusations lately that the sudden increase in illegal child immigration on the southern border of the United States is due to an executive order by President Obama to delay some deportations, such as the one quoted here:

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) blamed President Obama’s executive order to defer some deportations for the massive increase in unaccompanied minors trying to cross the border.

“It’s become simply undeniable, even to those in his own administration, that the president’s administrative policies — from his deferred-action program to his overall lack of serious immigration enforcement — have played a huge role in encouraging tens of thousands of children to risk their lives by traveling across Mexico,” Cornyn wrote Wednesday in an op-ed for the Dallas Morning News.

Did President Obama issue an executive order to delay deportations? If so, which one? Also if so, is it children especially whose deportations are being delayed?

  • "the sudden increase in illegal immigration" - I don't follow the news in this area. Is this a widely-accepted fact, or part of the claim?
    – Oddthinking
    Jul 8, 2014 at 5:20
  • @Oddthinking Another typo. Should've read "increase in illegal child immigration". It seems widely accepted considering the news on both sides, but it could be true that there is no spike. Implied part of the claim.
    – user20862
    Jul 8, 2014 at 12:16
  • I thought the delay in processing unaccompanied children was from a law enacted in late 2008 by a past President and the current President is only upholding that law.
    – JasonR
    Jul 23, 2014 at 17:18

2 Answers 2


Not exactly an Executive Order, but a program enacted by the Department of Homeland Security that targets illegal alien minors.

The White House blog mentions the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in August 15, 2012:

Today, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will begin accepting requests for consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals. Deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion.

While the program is targeted at children who arrived in the USA illegally, it can delay the deportation of adults as old as 31.

You came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday

You were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012

Senator John Cornyn is incorrect that this was an Executive Order, which has a very specific meaning. Congress may have (debatable) granted the Secretary of Homeland Security prosecutorial discretion to delay the deportation of children who have come to the USA illegally.

His numbers and country of origin are accurate though. The vast majority are from Mexico, and the hundreds of thousands that have been granted deferred action may be encouraging the influx of thousands of illegal alien children.

  • 2
    To be precise, it was the author of the article (Ramsey Cox) who used the phrase "executive order". Sen. Conryn's quote uses the more generic phrase "executive action". Jul 8, 2014 at 12:56

The White House publishes a list of executive orders. I browsed their titles back to the beginning of President Obama's first term and saw nothing relevant. The only executive order I found relating to immigration in any way is an unnumbered order dated January 19, 2012 entitled "Establishing Visa and Foreign Visitor Processing Goals and the Task Force on Travel and Competitiveness"; it seems to deal only with tourist visas.

So it appears that whatever changes in immigration or deportation policy may have been made, they have not been formalized as executive orders.

I did find a presidential memorandum dated June 2, 2014 entitled "Response to the Influx of Unaccompanied Alien Children Across the Southwest Border". It addresses the need for humanitarian relief but does not appear to make any direct reference to deportation. The closest it comes to mentioning that issue is the following sentence:

Nothing in this memorandum alters, or impedes the ability to carry out, the authorities of Federal departments and agencies to perform their responsibilities under law.

  • Although User1873's answer is generally more informative, I have to say this answers the question. +1 Nate E.. Jul 8, 2014 at 20:06

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