President Obama meets at the White House with presidents Salvador Sanchez Ceren of El Salvador, left; Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala, second from left; and Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras, right. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)
By Christi Parsons, Brian Bennett, Lisa Mascaro
Even as President Obama grapples with the crisis of immigrant children arriving at the Southwest border, White House officials are laying the groundwork for a large-scale expansion of immigrant rights that would come by executive action within weeks.
Officials signaled strongly Friday that Obama's move would shield from deportation large numbers of immigrants living in the country illegally, as advocacy groups have demanded.
Roughly 5 million of the estimated 11 million people who entered the country without legal authorization or overstayed their visas could be protected under a leading option the White House is considering, according to officials who discussed the proposals on condition of anonymity.
Obama said last month that because Congress had failed to act on comprehensive immigration reform, he would take executive action to "fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own."