Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration Meet Resistance

Protesters in Nashville, Tennessee, line up across the street from a community center that hosted President Barack Obama for a speech about his executive actions on immigration reform, December 9, 2014.

In late November, following the midterm elections, President Barack Obama announced a plan to enact changes in immigration policy by executive action. The goal of the policy is to protect from deportation certain “unauthorized immigrants” (that is, immigrants who are in the country illegally) who pose no particular threat, according to the administration. An estimated 5 million immigrants currently living in the United States would be eligible. Most of them are the parents of children who were born in the United States (and thus are citizens). The changes would allow these men and women to seek jobs without fear of being forced to leave the country.

Reactions to the announcement were immediate. Some called it an amnesty and oppose it. Opponents accused the president of rewriting immigration law, citing Obama’s own recent statements that there were limits to his power as president to do so. Supporters—many of whom have, like Obama, become impatient with the lack of progress on immigration reform—welcomed the announcement. The Obama administration claims that the president can use “prosecutorial discretion” in setting priorities as to who should face deportation, and that the federal government’s limited law-enforcement resources will be directed toward deportation of criminals.

As the new 114th Congress began its first session, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives moved quickly to attempt to defund the new immigration policy, which Speaker of the House John Boehner called “executive overreach [that] is an affront to the rule of law and the Constitution itself.” The House voted not to appropriate money for the specific activities that would be needed to carry out Obama’s immigration directive. Meanwhile, in a federal district court in Texas, a legal challenge to the immigration plan is looming. To be continued.

Image credit: © Jabin Botsford/The New York Times/Redux Stock

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