Obama pledges immigration fix by executive order

Now that Republicans control the U.S. Senate in the wake of Tuesday’s midterm elections, President Obama promised to use executive orders to implement immigration reform.

In an interview on CBS’ Face the Nation, Obama said he had waited long enough for Congress to act. “I’m going to do what I can do through executive action,” Obama said. “It’s not going to be everything that needs to get done. And it will take time to put that in place.”

The U.S. government does not have the capacity to deport an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.  This year’s upsurge in apprehension of unaccompanied children from Central America at the Southwestern border put further strain on the immigration system.

Th U.S. Department of Homeland Security estimates that 68,541  unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Honduras, and other Central American countries have been apprehended this year, compared to 38,759 last year.

Although the numbers have since declined, the crisis sparked growing public concern over illegal immigration and weakened support for legalization of undocumented immigrants, according to some polls.

Immigration reform




“Everybody agrees the immigration system’s broken. And we’ve been talking about it for years now in terms of fixing it,” Obama said.

“I’d prefer and still prefer to see it done through Congress,” Obama added. “But every day that I wait, we’re misallocating resources, we’re deporting people that shouldn’t be deported, we’re not deporting folks that are dangerous and need to be deported.”

For national policy change to occur,  Congress must usually approve a bill before the president signs it into law. An executive order allows the president to bypass the legislative process to meet limited policy objectives.

The U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill in July 2013, but it was not taken up by the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Speaker John Boehner.

In his first press conference since Tuesday’s midterm elections, Boehner said Obama will “poison the well” and “there will be no chance for immigration reform” if he pursues unilateral, executive action.

Executive orders provide only a temporary, short-term fix.  They can also be revoked by Congress, a federal appeals court, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Ultimately, Congress has to decide whether it will pass a bill to deal with permanent immigration reform.

Obama said that if a bill gets passed, “nobody’s going to be happier than me to sign it, because that means it will be permanent rather than temporary.” He noted, “the minute they pass a bill that addresses the problems of immigration reform, I will sign it and it supersedes whatever actions I take.”

Watch the full interview on CBS’ Face the Nation here.

This article provides general information only. Do not consider it as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Each legal case is different and case examples do not constitute a prediction or guarantee of success or failure in any other case. The sharing or receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.


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Photo by: SEIU

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