When Good Politics Meets the Right Thing to Do:
Four Key Points About Immigration Executive Action
Washington, DC – President Obama’s pledge to take executive action on immigration is center stage in post-election Washington. Here are four key points to understand:
• President Obama has made it clear that he’s going to lean into the issue and not wait yet again for Republicans to act: As we have highlighted, if this country is going to see progress on immigration before the end of the Obama presidency, it’s going to come from the executive branch and not the legislative branch. The same Republicans who refused to bring up immigration reform in the House this Congress are now in charge of both chambers of Congress. This is the party that blocked immigration reform in 2006, 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2014. It’s the party that voted to repeal DACA for DREAMers and consistently opted for fear-mongering ISIS, Ebola, border security and “amnesty” on the 2014 campaign trail. This weekend, President Obama told Bob Schieffer of CBS News that he would love Republicans to deliver legislation to his desk, but he wasn’t going to wait around for them to do so. Executive action will come by the end of the year and will not be delayed pending Congressional action. If Congress wants to do something about it, they can pass a comprehensive overhaul of immigration that the President can sign, but until then he’s going to move the ball forward.
• Every President since Eisenhower has taken executive action on immigration; President Obama’s plans are well within his existing legal authority: The President has broad, clear legal authority to act and change the way immigration laws are enforced. The legal case for executive action is airtight and the precedent for presidential action on immigration is extensive – every president since Dwight Eisenhower has taken executive action on immigration, on 39 different occasions over the past 60 years. This includes President George H.W. Bush protecting over 40 percent of the population of undocumented immigrants in 1990. The real radical option is doing nothing on immigration and maintaining the broken status quo.
• Republicans are fighting immigration executive action tooth and nail because they know it will hurt them in 2016: So long as President Obama does not act on immigration, the Republican Party is able to maintain a tenuous internal truce between those lawmakers who oppose immigration reform and those who support it, while muddying the waters to Latino voters about who is to blame for the stalemate over immigration
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Americans are no longer waiting for Congress on immigration. President Obama is preparing to move forward, and numerous states and localities are enacting pro-immigrant policies. If the President does the right thing, millions of immigrants who have established deep ties to America will be able to live freely, work legally and make a bigger contribution to our tax base and economy. But they won’t be the only winners. The majority of Americans who prefer action over the status quo will see government taking commonsense steps, at least until we have a Congress that will finish the job. And the Democratic Party will do something they didn’t do in 2014, which is to lean into a defining and mobilizing issue for the fastest growing groups of voters in the country, perhaps setting up another wave election with dramatically different results.”
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