White House prepares activists for Obama's immigration order

The White House held calls with activist groups on Tuesday to prepare them for President Obama's executive action on immigration, sources tell The Hill.

Administration officials didn't go into detail on what would be included in the executive action, which could come as early as this week. But they did focus on how other presidents, including Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, issued similar types of actions in the White House.

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One source said the White House sought to "temper expectations," on the executive action, cautioning that while some advocates have pushed for him to carry out the Senate’s immigration reform bill, Obama doesn't have the legal authority to go as far by acting alone.

"They're setting expectations, making it clear he has the legal authority to do what he's going to do, but that he's not going beyond his authority, as some advocates would like," said one source familiar with the calls on Tuesday.  

The source predicted that, given the timing of the calls, that the White House could announce the executive order as early as Wednesday, but cautioned the president could also wait for the government funding fight in Congress to run its course.

"My guess is whatever they have teed up is already ready," the source said.

Multiple reports have suggested Obama is poised to dramatically expand his deferred action program, allowing the parents of children who are legal residents or citizens of the United States to avoid deportation proceedings. Obama might also expand the eligibility for the current deferred action program, which allows children who were brought to the United States and remained in violation of the law to remain.

The president is also reportedly poised to expand specialty visas for high-tech workers. In total, an estimated 4 to 5 million illegal immigrants could be eligible for the program.

An administration official declined to confirm or deny that calls were made to activist groups. But the White House on Tuesday said that reviewing proposals for executive actions was "something that’s on [the president's] agenda this week."

Press secretary Josh Earnest also said "there are some things that have changed" since an interview last year, when Obama believed he did not have the legal authority to expand the deferred action program.

"We have been in a situation where the president has ordered a broader, in-depth review of the existing law to determine what sort of executive authority does rest with the presidency to determine what kinds of steps he could take on his own," Earnest said.

White House domestic policy council director Cecelia Munoz said Obama was still making final decisions about both the content and timing of his order.

"He's going to go as far as he can under the law," Munoz told MSNBC.