Currently there is a lot of noise on the subject of immigration. Let’s try and make sense of it all, shall we?
With President Obama’s approval rating at an all-time low, the Democrats continuing to distance themselves from his policies, and his most significant piece of legislation (the Affordable Care Act) not being very popular at the moment, you tend to wonder how Barack Obama got elected to a second term in the first place. Then you remember, “oh yeah, he’s one hell of an orator.”
A specific moment that comes to mind is his 2004 speech at the Democratic Nation Convention. Granted it was only about 15 minutes long, he didn’t talk much about policy, but you knew that he had captured many hearts and minds that night. That Barack Obama doesn’t come around much anymore. There’s good reason for that. The political landscape has become much more polarized and as President you have to talk about policy, which itself splits your audience. But on Thursday, you saw a glimmer of that 2004 DNC Barack Obama emerge, with his announcement of the executive action on immigration.
With that said…
You’re Damned If You Do, You’re Damned If You Don’t
Why the Republicans are Mad: “So clearly you just don’t care about bi-partisanship! Instead of working with the soon to be Republican majority in both the House and the Senate, you just decide to undermine our power and make an executive order. Thanks Obama!”
Why the Hispanic Bloc is Peeved: “Oh what now all of a sudden you want to fix immigration?!? You had a year and a half to do something about it! So why the change of heart? Oh that’s right, your base didn’t show up in this last election. So we’re basically political pawns in this chess game between you and the Republicans! Good to know where we stand. Thanks Obama!”
Why the Activist Groups are Annoyed: “So, you finally decide to take action after being over a year in the sidelines. Fine. Whatever, I guess we can live with that. What is unacceptable is the narrowness of this executive action! There will still be more than 6 million families that won’t be protected under your new executive action. This executive order doesn’t go far enough. Thanks Obama!”
Ok So What Does the Executive Action Actually Do?
What is Does
- Facilitate legal immigration to attract more skilled workers and students to the US. This is something, specifically the tech industry, has been asking for quite a while.
It expands the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) which grants temporary protection and work permits to children who came to this country illegally. The Obama Administration believes that now 270,000 more individuals will be covered by the executive action. Many “Dreamers” fall into this category.
Parents of legal resident of the US – their children having either citizenship or a Green Card – will be protected under the new executive action.
What It Doesn’t Do
- It does not extend the path towards citizenship for those that do not have it. Nor does it grant illegal immigrants citizenship. Only congress has the power to do either.
Glad to See the Republicans Taking It in Stride
— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) November 20, 2014
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas wrote an op-ed piece in Politico claiming President Obama’s executive action is act of monarchy, not of a US President.
Alright, everyone let’s all calm down now.
As stated earlier, the President doesn’t have the power to create a path to citizenship for those entering the United States. Only congress does. What the President does have the power to do is to stop deportations. This executive action does just that. Even the most conservative of legal experts agree that what he’s doing falls under his power.
Now with that said, this executive action on immigration is pretty substantial. While past presidents like George Bush Sr. did make executive actions on immigration – like extending the Family Fairness program – it was nothing to the level of President Obama’s executive action.
Is President Obama using his executive powers to the fullest extent? Absolutely. Is he breaking any constitutional boundaries while doing so? Doesn’t look like it.
(Editor’s Note: After some discussion, we changed the term “executive order” to “executive action” in this piece to properly identify the recent actions of President Obama.)
(Photo Credit: Associated Press, Google Images)