President Barack Obama took a stand in the Rose Garden this week declaring that if House Republicans would not move to address immigration reform, he would take executive action. The announcement came amid an influx of unaccompanied Central American migrant children crossing the Mexican border and precedes the mid-term congressional elections in November.
As the Commander in Chief cracked down on the droves of illegal immigrant children entering the country, immigration reform advocates have demanded action from the president, including reducing the deportation rate. Meanwhile, Speaker of the House John Boehner told Obama that the house would not vote on immigration reform this year. GOP members, have already made clear their intentions to sue Obama over his use of executive actions, and have said that the president’s taking action on immigration would only stiffen their opposition. The President expressed his own opinion on House Republican opposition to reform. “It makes no sense,” he said. “It’s not on the level. It’s just politics.”
While the president feels Republicans and their politicking are responsible for the lack of immigration reform and the flood of migrant children, Republicans lay the blame on the president. According to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Obama’s administrative actions have contributed to encouraging more than 52,000 migrant children to travel across Mexico, risking their lives.
“The president insists on blaming Congress, specifically Republicans, for doing nothing,” Cornyn wrote in an opinion piece for the Dallas News. He said Congress has not passed immigration reform because of the considerable level of distrust the president’s policies have created.
During his announcement, the president said he would reveal a series of new executive actions regarding immigration by the end of the summer, beginning with a naturalization ceremony, which he will hold for military members who will attend the Independence Day fireworks show on the South Lawn. Several times, he deviated from his prepared statement to rebut accusations of abuse of authority. At one point he said if Republicans are having such a problem with his unilateral actions then Congress needs to pass bills.
Prior to his announcement, Obama stopped in to meet with immigration advocates, who had been invited to the White House Saturday to speak with Cecilia Muñoz, chief advisor of domestic policy and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. He met with a few of the same advocates in March, just after the immigration activists branded him with the title “deporter-in-chief” for stemming the tide of migrant children. It was during that meeting that activists demanded Obama take a stand and make his own decision about immigration reform. He told the group he would make something happen in 90 days.
In a private session on Monday, the president reiterated his intentions from March and made it clear that he would not become the villain with reform advocates again. One such advocate, Eliseo Medina, chairman of the Immigrant Justice Campaign for the Service Employees International Union expressed approval for Obama’s promise. He said the group was happy to hear the president say he would take action.
While the future of the United States immigration system remains murky, Obama has taken a stand on reform and declared his intentions on the matter. The issue is now whether the GOP will step up and work toward a bipartisan solution or continue to accuse the president of abusing his power.
By Brandi M. Fleeks