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 Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid