The White House clarified that the President was wrong when he answered a question from the audience at a town hall in Nashville saying those eligible for Obama Reform would have to pay “back taxes.”
An Obama administration official told USA Today the president misspoke when he said that immigrants would have to “pay any back taxes.”
The confusion likely stems from a requirement in the 2013 Senate-passed immigration bill, which included a path to citizenship. In order to take the first step — provisional status — immigrants in the country illegally would have had to have, among other things, “satisfied any applicable Federal tax liability.” (See page 146 of the bill.) In other words, they would have had to pay back taxes.
The immigration plan announced by Obama on Nov. 20 provides a temporary relief of three years from the threat of deportation to parents who are in the country illegally but who have children who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. The parents must have lived in the United States for at least five years, and they must register, and pass background checks in order to obtain the reprieve. The White House estimates that 5 million people are eligible for “provisional unlawful presence waivers.” If they meet certain requirements, those immigrants also would be given work authorization for three years.
For immigrants who step forward, the procedure is to make sure that they “start paying their fair share of taxes” so they can “temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation for three years at a time,” says a White House fact sheet. The key word in there is “start.” There is no mechanism to require immigrants in the country illegally to pay any back taxes in order to obtain a three-year work authorization.