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New York 'Town Hall' Urges Obama to Act Alone on Immigration

Activists Urge President to Act Alone on Immigrationi
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Daniela Schrier
August 30, 2014 10:57 PM
New York immigration activists are calling on President Barack Obama to unilaterally end deportations and allow undocumented immigrants to work legally by the end of the summer. Daniela Schrier has more from New York.
New York immigration activists are calling on VIDEO: President Barack Obama to unilaterally end deportations and allow undocumented immigrants to work legally by the end of the summer. Daniela Schrier has more from New York.
Daniela Schrier

Undocumented mothers literally stood up for their rights in New York, calling on President Barack Obama to keep his promise for executive action on immigration reform.

At New Yorkers for Real Immigration Reform, an informal "town hall" at CUNY's Baruch College campus on Tuesday, the women said they want the president to use his executive authority to enact reforms without Congress — as he vowed in a late-August speech — and unilaterally end deportations and allow undocumented immigrants to work legally by the end of the summer.

Legislation to reform immigration procedures has been tied up in Congress and some conservative House Republicans have threatened to withhold funding to the U.S. government if the president seeks administrative relief for immigrants unilaterally.

“President Obama ... came out on June 30, he said if Congress cannot act, if they continue to allow such a broken system that does more harm than good, then he will act," said Betsy Plum of the New York Immigration Coalition. "And that is completely within his executive power.”

Last week's town hall, which brought together immigration activists, undocumented immigrants and politicians to call for a pathway to citizenship, was mobilized largely via social media. The hashtag #Allin4Relief is used by the activists to gather support online for administrative action.

But President Obama has said his executive powers will have limits.

“Even with aggressive steps on my part, administrative action alone will not adequately address the problem," he said in a recent speech. "The reforms that will do the most to strengthen our businesses and workers and our entire economy will still require an act of Congress.”

Congressional action, says Project 21’s Horace Cooper, is the only way to solve the current immigration dilemma.

"The right answer is for the White House and Congress to come together and work collaboratively to develop a solution to the issues involving immigration," she said. "Whether those are minor or whether those are significant, that is the process the Founders intended. That’s what the American people expect and that’s the normal way to proceed and it will minimize the likelihood of significant political blowback, litigation or other kinds of concerns."

The town hall's co-host, Linda Sarsour of the Arab American Association of New York, rallied the crowd to keep fighting for more substantive and broader reform.

“I want you to remember that administrative relief is only the beginning. It is not the end. We will not stop fighting until every undocumented immigrant in this country has a pathway to citizenship and they become voting citizens," she announced to cheering supporters.

The event closed on a celebratory note, with many hopeful that the president would soon enact policies to protect undocumented immigrant families despite staunch resistance from conservatives.

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by: Mark from: Virginia
August 31, 2014 4:50 PM
Now, if the shoe were on the other foot, and undocumented workers from America were illegally moving into Mexico to work, would these same people be happy about it? The answer to that is No.
An opportunity missed by our Immigration officials, I think, for not seizing these undocumented workers, illegal immigrants, and send them packing back to whatever country they hail from. I have no issue with folks wanting to immigrate to the United States, but do so legally, through legal channels, and become naturalized citizens before making demands of the Government who's border they violated.
And, one other small point (I may be nit-picking here, but)... be respectful and at least TRY to learn the language of the 'host' country. This way, we (the legal residents here) are not having to be forced to learn yours.

by: Local Man from: Oregon
August 31, 2014 12:36 PM
The best solution is to grant renewable 6-month worker visas. Most immigrants and would-be immigrants from Mexico and Central America are young men looking to work hard, buy a pickup truck and GO BACK to their girlfriend and their pueblo. With the 6-month visa the farmers will have a supply of ridiculously hardworking labor during peak months, we consumers get our handpicked peaches, these men will be able to return to their families and help their country for half the year, and we can improve monitoring and control of people coming across our Southern Border.

This is not the infamous H-2 Visa program, where immigrants are tied to a single employer who can easily exploit them. This new visa would enable workers to work legally and move freely between jobs during their six months, reducing unscrupulous employers’ means and motivation for exploitation. I am an American farmer and teacher who has lived in Mexico and worked with immigrants in multiple settings. This is what the migrant laborers want, this is what farmers want, and this option should be offered BEFORE considering granting citizenship.

by: Diana from: 92882
August 30, 2014 10:59 PM
Who the hell do these people think they are. They are criminals and have the nerve to make demands of any kind, to the American people. I tell you what Obama, put it up for a vote. In the next Federal election put this issue of illegals on the ballot and let the American people vote on it. Then the rule of law will have been satisfied. 70-80% of the American people are not in agreement with them or you on the issue of Immigration Reform. I dare you to face the truth!
In Response

by: SaneIndn from: Syracuse
August 31, 2014 12:40 AM
Well, a comprehensive bill was passed in the senate and sent to the house. But the republicans are the ones who don't have the spine to put it on a vote in the house where they have a majority - why? because if it comes to a vote, it will pass.

Healthcare and immigration are two issues Obama said he would address during his 2008 campaign.

To answer your question about who those people are - relatives of citizens like you and me. A significant group of citizens are under duress about the possibility of their family being torn apart by an immigration system that takes decades to process a case. Will you be willing to wait that long to establish a better life?

That significant portion is now strong enough to matter in elections and that is why we see this issue being brought up with such audacity. Here is news for you - their strength will grow as time progresses.

As far as my views go, we have an immigration system that needs to be streamlined to avoid backlogs and make it more efficient. Or solve the immigration issue for people in the line/present in the country and remove the immigration provision once and for all from this nation.

Either way, there has to be a workable solution to this problem. It is simply a pie in the sky to dream about 30 million deportations and venting out when these people hold demonstrations.

by: Sean from: Denver
August 30, 2014 8:25 PM
Let's start by temporary relief and legalization - even if no path for naturalization and citizenship is possible, the country and illegals get to both gain from legalization.

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