Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The President on Immigration Reform, Executive Action on Unaccompanied Minors


 In the Rose Garden yesterday, President Obama reiterated his commitment to immigration reform and reproached House Republicans for their unwillingness to confront this important issue. Speaking a year ago to the month when the Senate passed an immigration reform bill, the President outlined what Republican obstruction has meant over the past year:

We have fewer resources to strengthen our borders;

Businesses can still game the system by hiring undocumented workers -- which punishes businesses that are playing by the rules and hurting the wages of hard-working Americans;

The best and brightest that come to study in the United States are still forced to leave, heading overseas and subsequently competing against our workers;

and Eleven million immigrants are still living in the shadows, instead of having the opportunity to earn their citizenship. What's more, "it's meant the heartbreak of separated families," the President stressed.

Meanwhile, the majority of Americans -- ranging from law enforcement to labor to faith communities -- continue to support immigration reform. The bill passed by the Senate last year would strengthen our borders, grow our economy, and shrink our deficit. There are enough Republicans and Democrats that support immigration reform today to pass an immigration reform bill. "And Washington would solve a problem in a bipartisan way," the President noted.

In President Obama's remarks, he said that "Our country and our economy would be stronger today, if House Republicans had allowed a simple yes or no vote" on the Senate bill. "  Instead, they've proven again and again that they're unwilling to stand up to the Tea Party in order to do what's best for the country. And the worst part about it is, a bunch of them know better."

Republicans have indicated that they intend to block a vote at least for the remainder of this year. "Their argument seems to be that because the system's broken, we shouldn't make an effort to fix it. It makes no sense. It's not on the level. It's just politics. Plain and simple."

Other Republicans are mad at the President because he has used his executive actions too broadly. The President quickly countered that argument:

This also makes no sense. I don’t prefer taking administrative action. I’d rather see permanent fixes to the issue we face. Certainly that’s true on immigration. I’ve made that clear multiple times. I would love nothing more than bipartisan legislation to pass the House, the Senate, land on my desk so I can sign it. That’s true about immigration, that’s true about the minimum wage, it’s true about equal pay. There are a whole bunch of things where I would greatly prefer Congress actually do something.

President Obama reiterated that "the failure of House Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad for our security, it’s bad for our economy, and it’s bad for our future."

So where Congress fails to act, the President is going to continue to use his pen and his phone to fix the immigration system and keep our borders secure. President Obama directed the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General to move additional resources to the border to ensure that dangerous criminals are kept our of this country and the public is protected. The President also directed Secretary Johnson and Attorney General Holder to start to identify additional administrative actions that can be taken to try to fix as much of the immigration system as possible on his own. "If Congress will not do their job, at least we can do ours," the President said.

Here is a letter dated June 30, 2014 from the President to the Speaker of the House and other congressional leaders. 

Download Letter to Four Members of Congress From President Obama Regarding the Humanitarian Situation in the Rio Grande Valley Areas of the Nations Southwest Border

The the Center for American Progress released a new report that details the steps the president can take. The report, titled “What the President Can Do on Immigration if Congress Fails to Act,” provides a roadmap for executive action on immigration by analyzing the scope of the problem, the legal authority underpinning administrative reforms, the various administrative mechanisms available to the president, and the groups of individuals who could be protected from deportation through administrative relief.



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