The White House has announced that President Barack Obama will tomorrow outline executive actions he’ll be taking on immigration reform. This announcement has set off a predictable debate on MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, left blogs and right blogs and if you think you know what they’re saying about the issue, in most cases you are correct. America loves a screaming, angry debate — and so it has received a political Christmas gift early.
Here’s part of the White House announcement on the White House’s blog:
Our immigration system has been broken for decades — and every minute we fail to act, millions of people who live in the shadows but want to play by the rules and pay taxes have no way to live right by the law and contribute to our country.
So tomorrow night, President Obama will address the nation to lay out the executive actions he’s taking to fix our broken immigration system. You can watch the President live tomorrow night at 8 p.m. ET at WhiteHouse.gov/Live.
This is a step forward in the President’s plan to work with Congress on passing common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform. He laid out his principles for that reform two years ago in Del Sol High School in Las Vegas — and that’s where he’ll return on Friday to discuss why he is using his executive authority now, and why Republicans in Congress must act to pass a long-term solution to immigration reform.
And rather than subject TMV readers right now to the predicted political polemics, here are some excerpts from news stories.
President Obama said in a video that he will lay out his proposal to overhaul the nation’s immigration system Thursday and will travel to Las Vegas on the heels of that announcement to rally support for his initiative on Friday.
“Tomorrow night I’m going to be announcing here from the White House some steps I can take to start fixing our broken immigration system,” Obama said in a video posted on Facebook Wednesday afternoon.
“Everybody agrees that our immigration system is broken. Unfortunately Washington has allowed the problem to fester for too long,” Obama said. “So what’ I’m going to be laying out is the things I can do with my lawful authority as president to make the system work better even as I continue to work with Congress and encourage them to get a bipartisan, comprehensive bill that can solve the entire problem.
According to a senior Democrat familiar with the plans, Obama will announce on Thursday that he is providing temporary protections to up to 5 million undocumented immigrants. His orders will make up to 4 million undocumented immigrants eligible for temporary protective status and provide relief to another 1 million through other means.
In a blow to activists advocating on behalf of young immigrant families, there will be no guaranteed protections for the parents of so-called “Dreamers,” — children protected by Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program – nor for immigrant agricultural workers, said the Democrat, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Mr. Obama has said for months that he would act to revamp the nation’s immigration enforcement system if Republicans continued to block a legislative overhaul that would enhance border security, increase legal immigration and provide a path to legalization for many of the 11 million people living illegally in the United States.
The actions Mr. Obama is expected to announce will not go that far. But they will remove the threat of deportation for the parents of children who are citizens or legal permanent residents of the United States. He will also provide new guidance for the nation’s immigration enforcement agents and revamp the legal immigration system to provide more opportunities for high-tech workers from other countries.
As many as four million immigrants living in the country illegally will get a reprieve from deportation under a new program similar to one that already protects undocumented people who were brought to the country as children, according to people who were briefed on the announcement by senior White House officials. The immigrants must have lived in the country for at least five years and have no criminal record.
Officials said an additional one million people would get protection through other parts of the president’s actions.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has ruled out a shutdown, but House Speaker John Boehner has not.
“If ‘Emperor Obama’ ignores the American people and announces an amnesty plan that he himself has said over and over again exceeds his Constitutional authority, he will cement his legacy of lawlessness and ruin the chances for Congressional action on this issue – and many others,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.
When asked whether Mr. Obama would veto any spending bill that denied the funding for his actions, Earnest said that “would not be a proposal that the president would support,” but didn’t explicitly answer the question.
“We would evaluate these individual proposals on the merits before we made a final decision,” he said.
Republicans are already threatening retaliation. In an op-ed published in Politico Wednesday, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said that the next Congress should not confirm a single executive or judicial nominee outside of vital national security positions “so long as the illegal amnesty persists.”
Ultimately, Mr. Obama’s executive actions could have a short life span. The next inhabitant of the Oval Office could easily overturn them on the first day of his or her presidency.
New York University Law School Professor Adam Cox, an expert in immigration and constitutional law, also told CBS News last week that if the next Oval Office occupant reverses DACA and any potential expansion of the program, immigrants who had been protected under these orders could try to sue the government for a violation of due process if they’re forced to return to their native countries while they still have time left on their deportation deferrals.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.