So, President Barack Obama comes to the rescue of the Republican and Democratic parties with his executive pen unsheathed. In allowing some 5 million immigrants to stay in this country without fear of deportation, Obama is allowing Congress to have it both ways.
For Republican representatives, no matter how mad they may be about Obama’s unilateral attempt at immigration reform, it takes them off the hook for finding a solution that would surely upset their base and gives them a cudgel to hammer Democrats in 2016. For Democrats, they can use a basically useless, temporary action to attract Latinos. While both parties realize the need for immigration reform, none have the political will to do anything.
Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wrote, “Immigration reform would help revitalize our economy by raising the GDP, boosting productivity, and attracting investment from around the world. It would spur innovation and entrepreneurship. It would create jobs for immigrant and native-born workers alike. Reform would also help address our demographic realities and slash the federal deficit.”
Do we agree with the president’s strategy? No. Obama’s actions only re-enforce notions of an imperial presidency and the timing stinks. He should have had the courage of his convictions before the midterm elections instead of during Congress’s lame duck session. Congress should have tackled this issue when President George W. Bush sought a solution in 2007. Presidents John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush used their executive powers to adjust immigration law when it was not such a hot potato.
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Congress still has the power of the purse and Obama’s executive powers cease when he leaves office in two years. The next president can pull out his or her own pen and nullify his orders.
We will see if the sound and the fury continues. Since none of the major networks carried the speech, opting to air the vitally important “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Biggest Loser” and “The Big Bang Theory,” many Americans will have to depend on talking heads rather than the president for explanations.