President Barack Obama announced sweeping executive action on immigration this past Thursday, fulfilling a promise he gave over seven years ago when he was running for president in 2007. The president’s announcement detailed the new program that essentially allows many undocumented immigrants to obtain some form of legal status so that they can temporarily stay in the country without fear of deportation. This action is expected to affect 5 million of the 11 million undocumented Americans.
As expected, the Republicans are furious about the president’s actions, claiming that he is doing something that is against the law. Many have heavily criticized him and claim that there is no longer any chance that he can work with the Republican-led Congress on issues such as immigration. Others have threatened impeachment and lawsuits around the executive order. Even though immigration reforms is something that typically wins in the polls, the president had to know that his actions would be fought hard by the Republican party, many of whom use inflammatory terms in their rhetoric around this issue, such as amnesty, self-deportation, illegals, and illegal aliens.
Now, President Obama did also get criticism after many started referencing his own statements about the legality of his actions. Many times, he stated that he did not have the constitutional power to stop deportations of undocumented immigrants. Many are questioning what changed in his thinking with regards to this, since he ended up taking the action he said he did not have the power to do. While he created that conundrum for himself, many also reference that he has taken action similar to that of previous presidents such as Republicans presidents, Ronald Reagan and both Bushes.
Now, the Real Talk…
The president’s actions with this executive order, was a debt that was overdue to the Latino community. The president promised to handle immigration back in 2007 when he was initially running for president. Despite failing to do so in the first term, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment in 2012 when running for re-election. Both in the 2008 and 2012 elections we saw record percentages of the Latino community vote for the President. Though it is late in his presidency when he has promised again and again, the president finally took action that is just one step that is needed to fix this horrible immigration system.
Though many Republicans have been complaining about President Obama’s actions, the fact is that he has taken similar action that other presidents before him has. In fact, language of President Obama’s speech is very similar to President Bush’s address to the nation in 2006 on the same issue. Critics of this president for doing something that is popular amongst many Americans, and that many in Congress agree with, both Democrats and Republicans. But of course, the rhetoric takes a sharper tone with this president… I wonder why?
Republicans cannot complain. They have completely failed to do their job since taking over Congress, so the president has no choice but to act alone. They can and should still act on immigration. There are huge problems with the immigration system. Not only can they act to make the president’s action actual law (because what he did is not a new law), but they can also work on a pathway to citizenship for undocumented Americans and easing the process for obtaining citizenship. Will they do it? Probably not. They would prefer to complain about the president, threaten impeachment, and sue the President. We’ll see how serious they are about this issue. Their actions over the next two years will determine how competitive they will be in the 2016 elections, whether they can hold on to the Senate and if they can take the Presidency.
The bottom line is that the president’s actions are welcome by many in the Latino community and others that are undocumented. This actions, along with a complete, comprehensive immigration reform, are necessary for many reasons. The economic benefits are countless as more people will be added to the workforce legally, which also includes taxes that could contribute more to the economy (although many have already been paying taxes even as undocumented immigrants). Also, having an easier pathway to citizenship will greatly help people who are desperate to become Americans. Making the process easier will provide a quicker way for us to add more productive citizens from around the world, to our country. Finally, and most importantly, it is a humane thing to do. I dread hearing about families being broken. I dread hearing about parents having to leave their kids in America because they were deported because they were undocumented. I dread hearing about students who cannot afford to pay for college because they aren’t eligible for financial aid, even though they grew up in the United States. I can go on and on, but the point is that we should do the right and humane thing to do in this situation.
New York Times – Mr. Obama’s Wise Immigration Plan