Immigration Hot Topic as President Obama Promises Executive Action


Immigration continues to be a hot topic that widens the rift between Democrats and Republicans in Congress as President Obama gets closer to fulfilling his promise to take executive action that will grant undocumented immigrants a chance to legalize their status. A recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center during the recent mid-term elections indicated that Americans wanted Democrats and Republicans to work together to resolve the country’s issues. In the last few weeks, the ongoing debate on the anticipated action by the president seems to have clouded that possibility.

The Senate passed a bi-partisan immigration bill last summer to offer undocumented immigrants a chance to legalize their status. When the bill went to the House, the Republicans, who form the majority in the chamber, refused to bring it to the table  for discussion. It died a natural death.

Fears that failure to bring the bill for discussion would impact the Republican Party negatively in the 2014 mid-term elections proved to be false. They not only kept the leadership of the House of Representatives under their belt, but they also increased their numbers in the Senate, becoming the majority in the next legislative period.

Frustrated by the Republican Party’s failure to come to compromise on immigration during the six years of his presidency,President Obama increased the heat on the already hot topic by promising to sign an executive order. He is expected to announce wide-ranging measures before the end of the year that will allow more than five million undocumented immigrants to legalize their status and also get work permits.

Republicans view President Obama’s plan to rewrite immigration laws on his own as an overreach on an issue that should be passed by both the House and Senate. Some have talked of shutting down the government by blocking funding bills if the president goes on with his plan.

NBC reported that in anticipation of the president’s executive order, some schools and churches are already preparing families on the legalization process. Steven Zimmer, an official of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board, said the district has reviewed the processes that were in place when President Ronald Reagan signed a similar law in 1986 so as to be ready to offer the necessary assistance when the time comes.

In anticipation of the president fulfilling his promise to take executive action on immigration, a hot topic that has unsettled leading Republican Party lawmakers, some evangelical churches have formed an organization to help undocumented immigrants navigate through the process when the president’s executive action is signed into law. Damon Schroeder, and official of The Immigration Alliance, said they intend to stop fraudulent notary service companies from fleecing undocumented immigrants by providing information on the registration process.

Representative Luis Gutierez, a Democrat from Illinois, has joined a group of churches, business communities, and Chicago mayor Rahmm Immanuel to prepare undocumented immigrants for the process. He has posted examples of documents that will be required on his congressional website should the president’s executive action become a reality.

Jennifer Palmieri, White House communications director, said that the leadership will not let GOP hold back the need to solve problems. She added that the administration is not going to tie up its agenda because of how the congress will react to the president’s executive action on solving the immigration issue.

Not all states are ready for President Obama’s executive action to grant undocumented immigrants legal status. Yahoo News! reported that Oregon residents voted to deny undocumented immigrants an opportunity to get driver’s licenses in the recently-concluded mid-term elections. That may be an indication that immigration is likely to remain a hot topic if President Obama keeps his promise to sign an executive order granting undocumented immigrants a chance to legalize their status.

By Benedicto Ateku

Washington Post
Photos by Sasha Kimel and Calvin Fleming- Flickr License