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With congress stymied, what can the president do on immigration reform?

So far the president has been working just along the margins. Will he again use executive orders to make change?

Ray’s thoughts on immigration reform

Deportations have continued and the president's approval among Latinos has dropped, but not as low as Latino opinions of Republicans. The two big parties blame each other, and House Speaker John Boehner continues to insist there's still time to do something before 435 members head out to campaign. Now the White House has been talking about what it can do, failing congressional action. 

The Pentagon is the latest place where President Barack Obama is turning in an effort to change immigration rules in this country. The Department of Defense is evaluating whether to allow immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children to serve in the military.

Young people with a work history and a pardon under Obama's earlier efforts to defer deportation for immigrant children would be allowed to serve.

More than half a million immigrants have benefited from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program the president used executive orders to enact two years ago.

Moves like this are an example of the president working his levers of power. The question is, what more can he do — and will he do — to keep his immigration reform agenda moving forward without action in Congress?

Republican House Speaker John Boehner has said he wants immigration reform. He rejected the sweeping overhaul passed in the Senate and favors a step-by-step approach.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Rep. John Boehner on stalled immigration reform

“I’ve made it clear in the last few months that until the president gives us some reason, some confidence that we can trust him to implement an immigration reform bill, we really don't have much to talk about. The ball’s in the president’s court.”

Some members of Boehner's caucus are clearly frustrated by the lack of movement. Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., put forward an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act seeking legal status for immigrants who serve in the military; he called it the ENLIST Act. But it is not going to happen. The GOP House leadership blocked it.

The closer we get to the midterm elections, the harder it is to get things done around here. I know it’s hard to believe that things ... could get a little more dysfunctional, but it’s just very hard right before an election. So we’ve got maybe a window of two, three months to get the ball rolling.

President Barack Obama

The president has been facing increased criticism and protest over his immigration policy. More than 2 million illegal immigrants have been deported since he took office. 

In response, he assigned the secretary of homeland security, Jeh Johnson, to review deportation policy to make it more "humane." That review is still underway.

So while the public waits for action and the issue is at a standstill on Capitol Hill, the president is left to work at the margins if he wants to make progress.

Has President Obama gotten his due credit on increasing enforcement? Shouldn't he just move ahead on his own?

What can or should the president do, short of a bill?

Is public opinion being ignored by both sides on Capitol Hill?

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