For years, the president has repeatedly waved aside the demands of Latino activists and Democratic allies who begged him to take action on his own, and he insisted publicly that a decision to shield millions of immigrants from deportation without an act of Congress would amount to nothing less than the dictates of a king, not a president.
In a Telemundo interview in September 2013, Mr. Obama said he was proud of having protected the "Dreamers" — people who came to the United States illegally as young children — from deportation. But he said at the time that he could not apply that same action to other groups of people.
"If we start broadening that, then essentially, I'll be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally," Mr. Obama told Jose Diaz-Balart in the interview. "So that's not an option."
But Mr. Obama has effectively reversed his position and now said he believes that such actions can be "legally unassailable," as a senior White House official put it last week. Mr. Obama is expected to announce plans soon to expand the program for Dreamers to shield up to five million people from deportation and provide work permits for many of them.'