Executive Order, per the Random House College Dictionary, Revised Edition 1988 Printing, is "a regulation having the force of law issued by the President of the U. S. to the Army, Navy, or other parts of the Executive branch of the government". Make note of the date in this dictionary. Much as Republican Congressmen would like for us to believe so, Executive Order was not an invention of President Barack Obama.
It is covered in the 1991 World Book Encyclopedia. This World Book says they are directions, proclamations or other statements that have the force of laws and that they require no act of Congress. One of the most famous, it says, was the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring freedom for all slaves in parts of the country under Confederate control. Get it? This is not an invention of current Democrats or this President to deal with an obstinate and obstructionist Congress.
Both Democratic and Republican Presidents have used this method of making changes to laws for generations. Of our 44 presidents, only William Henry Harrison did not use it at all.
In The White House Diary of Jimmy Carter, the former President mentions Executive Orders seven times. One of these was in reference to future Presidents using the method to change laws or orders from his presidency.
John Adams used the technique once and Franklin Delano Roosevelt did so 3,522 times.
Wickipedia states that they have full force of the law when they are based on power granted to the President by the Constitution or are based on Acts of Congress that delegate the president at least some discretionary power.
Now it is not for the likes of me or the average voter to determine the lawfulness of specific ones of these orders. That is for a proper Court of Law to determine. Even Congress will have to wait to see if the courts find the President's actions lawful.
But make no mistake about it, most Republicans are going to hope they rule against the President just as most Democrats will hope they rule for him.
In the meantime, we need to maintain our good sense. Cooler heads in the court system will take the politics and the accusations out of the proceedings and make determinations based on law -- at least we hope and pray they will. It wouldn't hurt, either, for Congress to try at least a little to produce some actual laws on the current hot topics.