With the ever increasing chance of House Republicans doing nothing about immigration once again, President Obama has decided that he will move forward on immigration reform with or without them. On Monday, at the White House Rose Garden, President Obama said, “If Congress will not do its job, at least we can do ours.” The President stressed that he has been patient with Republicans in hopes that they would pass some sort of bill this summer. In his speech he blasted GOP leaders for not having the courage to stand up to the Tea Party. Thus, he promised that he will do all he can within his executive authority. He made sure to point out that he does not enjoy taking unilateral action on many matters, but if Congress won’t do their job, he will do it for them.
The comments came days after the President spoke to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who informed him that the House would not be taking up an immigration bill this year. The President pointed to this conversation in his speech and believes that if inaction continues on this important issue, there will be detrimental costs to the economy and for the future of this country. The President scolded House Republicans in particular for not moving forward with immigration, especially given the fact that the Senate had already approved a bipartisan immigration bill last year.
The visibly disgruntled President promised to flex his executive powers by moving interior DHS personnel to the border, “fix” some of the problems in the immigration system, and speed the return of thousands of child immigrants from Central America. In terms of his three promises, he has already directed DHS to move some of their interior enforcement personnel to assist in the border efforts. This move would shift the focus of deporting long-term undocumented people to those that have been here for a short period. He did not specify what he would do to fix the immigration system other than look into it and announce further changes in the upcoming future. Lastly, he has requested an additional $2 billion in emergency funds from Congress for additional personnel on the border so that DHS can speed up the deportation process of child immigrants.
As expected, House Republicans did not take too lightly to the President’s initiatives or comments. At a time where there is much debate and argumentation surrounding the President’s use of executive power, this will only cause more bickering between the legislative and executive branch. Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans are already planning a lawsuit against President Obama and the executive branch for their perceived view that President Obama is usurping their constitutionally granted powers. They also believe President Obama is approaching this issue form the wrong angle. To them, he is the culprit of the surge in children immigrants we are seeing at the border. They believe that his immigration policies have caused this humanitarian crisis because immigrant youth believe that they will qualify for the President’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program.
Carlos Vera is a Staff Writer at Latino Giant. He is passionate about the intersection between policy, advocacy and community development as it pertains to Latinos in United States. He is a Senior at American University in Washington D.C., where he is focusing his studies on the politics and policy inner workings of immigration and education. Currently, he is Co-Directing a peer mentorship program for multicultural students as a NUFP Fellow at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Previously, he has held internships at the U.S. House of Representatives, the European Parliament in Brussels, and volunteer roles in local, state and national campaigns.