There is an idiom that parents and employers likely put in practice when an important task has to be completed correctly; “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” President Obama certainly understands that sentiment with a slight variation; if the nation wants anything done at all, the President has to do it himself due to Republicans who have done nothing since January 2009.
Sometime next week, after waiting patiently for Ted Cruz to order House Republicans to take up, and pass, the Senate’s bipartisan immigration reform, the President will take action on immigration reform. The President’s patience has been rewarded with Republican refusal to act despite overwhelming public support, so he will order a far-reaching overhaul of the immigration enforcement system that will protect at least five million undocumented immigrants from the threat of summary deportation.
The President has authority to enforce federal laws with discretion and his order will refocus the activities of immigration agents, including allowing many parents of American citizens or legal residents to obtain legal work documents to end the terror of being separated from their families and thrown out of “the shining city on a hill.” That part of the plan could affect 3.3 million people, but they have to have lived in America for at least five years according to analysis by the Migration Policy Institute. The plan also may include a much stricter policy to limit benefits to immigrants who have lived in America for at least ten years affecting approximately 2.5 million people.
The President is also considering extending protections to more undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, and to their parents, that could affect an additional one million people. There is also a possibility of protecting undocumented farm workers who have entered the country illegally, but have helped feed Americans for decades working in the agriculture industry.
Included in the enforcement overhaul are expanded opportunities for legal immigrants who have high-tech skills, and shifts extra security resources to the nation’s southern border. A new memorandum will direct immigration enforcement officials, border agents, and immigration judges to continue deportations for convicted criminals, foreigners who pose national security risks, and recent border crossers; Central American children are shielded under the George W. Bush law providing them with due process prior to being thrown out of America.
The President has overwhelming support from pro-immigration groups, Hispanics, 62% of Americans, and advocates who expect the President to take bold action after years of frustration, and seeing the wide-ranging Senate bipartisan immigration bill fall victim to Ted Cruz-Republicans in the House last year. In fact, a recent poll found that even 4 out of 5 Republicans, or 78%, support the President’s “stepped approach” to immigration reform their xenophobic Congress refuses to consider. The President has called for, and pledged to act on, immigration reform for six years, and clearly his patient reliance on white obstructionists doing anything whatsoever is at an end. The director of migration policy at the United States Council of Catholic Bishops, Kevin Appleby, said “This is his last chance to make good on his promise to fix the system. If he delays again, immigration activists would jump the White House fence.” However, the USCCB most certainly have ulterior motives for supporting immigration reform founded on documenting more Catholics; but at this juncture their support is welcomed regardless their theocratic reasons. Clearly, any Presidential executive action is necessary because Obama, like most Americans, knows Republican do-nothings have no intention to act on much-needed immigration reform; unless it means mobilizing the U.S. military, armed white militias, and weaponized drones at the Southern border in an act of war against, most recently, Central American immigrant children.
Republicans in Congress have already levied a rash of threats against the President for doing the job they refuse; work for the good of the people and the nation. In the Senate, a group of extremist teabaggers led by de facto Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader Texas Ted Cruz with Mike Lee of Utah and Jeff Sessions of Alabama in tow are already planning to thwart any executive action on immigration. The obstruction-minded fascists intend on rallying their Republican cabal to block passage of a budget next month unless it contains a measure abolishing President Obama’s executive authority to act on immigration. Teabagger Mike Lee said “I think it’s very important for us to do what we can to prevent it (executive action and immigration reform),” and it includes, at least, shutting down the government; a prospect Mitch McConnell and John Boehner have proposed to abolish President Obama’s authority to use executive actions on anything.
In the House, “official” Speaker John Boehner warned the President that if he exercised his executive authority on immigration, Republicans would “fight the President tooth and nail. He also warned the President that Republicans would sue him for using executive authority as the said promised over the Affordable Care Act. Boehner also refused to rule out shutting down the government if the President dared to be President. Boehner said, “We are looking at all options, and they’re on the table.”
What irks Republicans to no end is that the primary features of President Obama’s plan are founded on longstanding legal precedents granting the executive branch the right to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” in how it enforces laws. In fact, it is precisely those precedents that informed the President’s decision in 2012 to protect children who were brought to America by their parents through no fault of their own, and “dream” of being “legal citizens;” they are, for all intents and purposes Americans. Republicans, and their white xenophobic base, want them and likely all Hispanics, deported with prejudice whether they are undocumented or not.
Republicans have had six years under President Obama, and eight years under Bush to reform immigration policy, but they have adhered closely to their agenda of doing nothing positive for the people or the nation; particularly since 2008. Their only action over the past four years is taking any and everything from the people and handing it all to the rich. President Obama has exercised nothing but patience in waiting for Republicans to act on immigration reform, and as he said shortly after the midterms, “Before the end of the year, we’re going to take whatever lawful actions that I can take to improve the functioning of our immigration system. What I’m not going to do is just wait.” Throughout this President’s tenure, with obstructionist Republicans in Congress, anything that has needed to be done he has had to do himself. It is why Republicans seriously need to put in practice what they claim America’s poverty-wage workforce needs to do; learn the value and culture of work.