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Kamala Harris unveils immigration plan to expand deferred action, use executive action to provide pathway to citizenship

Dan Merica | 14 Days

(CNN) Sen. Kamala Harris on Wednesday announced a plan to expand the use of deferred action immigration programs as president and use executive actions to remove the threat of deportation of millions of undocumented people in the United States.

The plan, which the California Democrat is rolling out ahead of a trip to Nevada on Friday, would work within the current confines of immigration law and assumes Congress would be unable to pass immigration reform, something the body has failed to do for years. Her plan, should she be elected in 2020, would instead expand the use of deferred action immigration programs and use executive actions.

Harris would look to remove barriers that prevent many so-called Dreamers -- undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children -- from receiving legal status by applying for a green card. The plan would also expand the use of deferred action programs to cover parents of US citizens and legal permanent residents, veterans and undocumented immigrants who have been in the United States for years.

The plan would also make it easier for deferred action recipients to adjust their immigration status by clarifying that a number of infractions usually committed by Dreamers -- like entering the country unlawfully, having lapses in their immigration status and performing unauthorized work -- do not impact immigration proceedings as long as those recipients have a family connection in the United States or a job that requires them to adjust their status.

"Every day in the life of a Dreamer who fears deportation is a long day," Harris said in a statement. "Dreamers cannot afford to sit around and wait for Congress to get its act together. Their lives are on the line."

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