At a brief statement at the White House Monday afternoon, Obama said that since the Republican-led House would not allow an "up-or-down vote" on the issue, he would be looking at a series of executive actions.
Here are five possible recommendations Obama is considering:
1. Expand a deferred deportation program
What he could do: In 2012, Obama approved a program to postpone deportation of people brought to the U.S. illegally as children. He could expand it to their parents and siblings.
Why he might do it: Currently the program applies to individuals who came to the United States under the age of 16 who were 31 years old as of June 15, 2012. Immigration reform advocates think expanding it would force Republicans to negotiate on a bill.
2. Allow some family members to come back
What he could do: Going even further, the Obama administration could allow already-deported parents and siblings of people in the deferral program to return to the United States.
Why he might do it: Reform advocates have pushed for more family reunifications, a broader goal that Obama has said he shares. Still, this would be a much more aggressive step than simply allowing people to stay.
3. Allow illegal immigrants to join the military
What he could do: The Obama administration is considering a plan to allow some illegal immigrants to join the military, which would ultimately provide them with a pathway to citizenship.
Why he might do it: Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have shown some support for allowing those who qualify for the deferred action program to enlist. A bipartisan House bill didn't pass, but GOP leaders were said to be in favor of it.
4. Expand the hardship exemption
What he could do: People facing "extreme hardships" are eligible to remain in the United States and apply for a green card. The Obama administration could seek to expand the definition of "hardship."
Why he might do it: Immigration advocates want to expand the definition to include people who have immediate family ties in the U.S., suffer from financial or mental health problems or face poor conditions in their home countries.
5. Add resources to immigration courts
What he could do: According to a clearinghouse run by Syracuse University, the backlog in immigration courts has more than doubled in the last decade. Obama could seek more resources for it.
Why he might do it: There is bipartisan agreement in Congress that the immigration court system is broken, so it would be an easier sell for Obama if he sought additional funding for it.