President Obama has instructed federal immigration agents to give more leniency to undocumented parents of minors present in the United States. Although Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) already have authority to not pursue low priority immigrants, President Obama's directive re-affirms their authority, and supplements it.
Most importantly for many undocumented immigrants, Obama's directive will enable ICE officers to release undocumented parents of minors in the United States from custody, and to consider alternatives to detention. Immigration proceedings can take some time, anywhere from 4 months to 3 years.
Republicans argue that once again (last year's Dreamer's Act), President Obama is abusing his authority, and that his decision is for Congress to make, and that a President is not permitted to make a unilateral decision like the directive here. Republicans also argue that by issuing this directive, Obama is refusing to enforce laws that are already in existence.
Implicit in this directive is a push for Congress to resolve their differences for immigration overhaul. President Obama's directives are steps along the path to reform, but they are directives, not laws.