News / USA

Washington Stirs Anew on Immigration Reform

President Barack Obama makes a statement about immigration reform, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, June 30, 2014.
President Barack Obama makes a statement about immigration reform, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, June 30, 2014.
Michael Bowman

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama reignited America's long-simmering debate on immigration reform, saying he would do what he can through executive orders. Proponents and opponents of a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants have responded, as Washington ponders the political and possible electoral ramifications of the president's announcement.

Monday, the president said his patience with Congress is at an end on immigration reform. “America cannot wait forever for them to act. And that is why today I am beginning a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own,” he said.

The administration is exploring executive orders to address the plight of those who entered the country illegally or overstayed visas, and hopes to quell a crisis along America’s border with Mexico, where tens of thousands of minors have arrived, believing the United States will not deport those who are underage.

Obama’s announcement provoked a mixed reaction from advocates.

Advocates, opponents

Lynn Tramonte, deputy director at America’s Voice, a group that supports comprehensive immigration reform, said the president can make a difference.

“It marked a turning point in the debate. We saw the president speaking truth,” she said.

“He does not have authority to open up a path to citizenship for 11 million people here without papers. That is clear. That is Congress’ job," said Tramonte. "But he does have authority to create a program of deferred action and allow those same people to start the process toward legalization. They will not get a visa; they will not get a green card. But they will get temporary papers.”

Opponents of any adjusted status for the undocumented are appalled, including Marguerite Telford of the Center for Immigration Studies.

“It is astonishing, an incredible disregard for our constitution,” she said.

Telford said House Republicans have not acted on immigration reform for good reason, they view a bill that passed the Senate last year as amnesty for law-breakers, and do not believe promises of enhanced border enforcement will be kept.

“We do not trust the president of the United States. We can pass these things, and he will not enforce them,” she said.

Political factors

Republicans risk alienating the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, immigrants and their American-born offspring, according to the American Enterprise Institute’s Norm Ornstein.

“I think President Obama’s announcement works well for Democrats," he said. "One of the dilemmas that Republicans will have is that, the more they criticize the president, the more in the eyes of the Hispanic-American population, the Asian-American population and others, they are going to look like they are staunchly against immigration and immigrants.”

Ornstein notes that, even before Obama’s announcement, House Speaker John Boehner was seeking legal avenues to limit the president’s use of executive authority. Ornstein said the president risks little politically by acting on his own, noting, “Congressional Republicans are going to be upset whatever he does.”

The administration's review of executive actions is expected to be completed in coming months.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid