November 20, 2014
If there is any mistake President Obama and his administration made two years after he came to office, it was not passing a comprehensive immigration reform, when Democrats had both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Now that the Republicans are ready to take over both Houses come January, a move that would make passing Bills more difficult for the administration, the President has exercised his executive authority to pass a limited immigration reform.
In his address to the nation, President Obama highlighted the need to act, since Congress has failed to take action on the nation’s broken immigration system due to partisan politics and Congressional gridlock. The President’s action on immigration potentially shields about five million people without legal status from deportation.
Undocumented Parents of U.S. born children and Permanent residents will gain legal status and protection from removal, if they can prove they’ve lived in the U.S. for more than five years, register with immigration, pass criminal background check and pay their fair share of taxes. Though, not a grant of citizenship or permanent residency for those qualified, the reform is expected to benefit about 3.5 million people in such category.
The President’s move broadens protection for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, the so-called DREAMERS, it expands visa opportunities for skilled workers and put a new focus on deporting criminals and felons. The reform includes border protection, which Republicans in Congress have long complained about and criticized the President for failing to act on.
While the reform allows undocumented parents of U.S. Citizens and permanent residents to stay without fear of removal, the plan, made no mention of any protection for parents of Dreamers under the President’s immigration plan. Those children themselves, benefited from The Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA), implemented by the Obama administration in 2012, after Congress failed to pass the Dream Act, which would have given such children a path to citizenship.
The President was brief and precise in his speech, while at the same time careful not to exceed his executive authority. Meanwhile, Republicans in both Houses are threatening to create a state of anarchy and sue the President for using executive action to fix the nation’s immigration problems.
House Speaker John Boehner said the President “will regret his solo action on immigration,” expressing his determination to fight “tooth and nail” with the President over his solo action. Some in the Republican Party have said the President’s unilateral action, marks an end to any possibility of ever passing a comprehensive immigration reform.
The new immigration overhaul is a limited action expected to take effect by January 1, 2015. The President’s action tonight, is not an attempt to make a new law on immigration, which only Congress can do but a move, to find temporary solution within the scope of presidential Constitutional authority. Any new President after Obama may choose to vacate the order and a Congressional decision to pass a comprehensive immigration reform, will render Obama’s action ineffective as long as it fixes the nation’s immigration problems so, why the fierce opposition?
Many in the nation believe Congress is dysfunctional as the lawmakers allow partisan politics to shape every policy that affects the American people. The President’s action will take many undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and allow them the opportunity to contribute to the nation without fear of arrest and deportation. This is not amnesty; Congress has failed to act on reforming the nation’s immigration trouble it is therefore, necessary for the President to take actions allowed under the Constitution.
Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is the author of ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment,’ ‘Criminal Law-Homicide’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ available at http://www.amazon.com/author/adeyemioshunrinade. Follow on Twitter @san0670.