NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

President Obama pledges to treat more new Americans with dignity in immigration speech

In a ground­break­ing speech, Barack Oba­ma announced this evening that he is using his author­i­ty and dis­cre­tion as Pres­i­dent to end the oppres­sion of over five mil­lion new Amer­i­cans by grant­i­ng them a reprieve from the threat of depor­ta­tion, pro­vid­ed they iden­ti­fy them­selves to the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and pay their taxes.

Speak­ing from the White House, the Pres­i­dent declared that Amer­i­ca’s immi­gra­tion sys­tem was bro­ken, that Con­gress’ inac­tion was inex­cus­able, and that it was his moral duty to use his author­i­ty as the nation’s chief exec­u­tive to make pur­sue a more sen­si­ble and respon­si­ble approach to enforc­ing our exist­ing laws.

“We expect peo­ple who live in this coun­try to play by the rules,” Oba­ma said. “We expect those who cut the line will not be unfair­ly rewarded.”

“So we’re going to offer the fol­low­ing deal: If you’ve with been in Amer­i­ca more than five years, if you have chil­dren who are Amer­i­can cit­i­zens or ille­gal res­i­dents, if you reg­is­ter, pass a crim­i­nal back­ground check and you’re will­ing to pay your fair share of tax­es, you’ll be able to apply to stay in this coun­try tem­porar­i­ly with­out fear of depor­ta­tion. You can come out of the shad­ows and get right with the law. That’s what this deal is.”

“Now let’s be clear about what it isn’t,” the Pres­i­dent con­tin­ued. “This deal does not apply to any­one who has come to this coun­try recent­ly. It does not apply to any­one who might come to Amer­i­ca ille­gal­ly in the future. It does not grant cit­i­zen­ship or the right to stay here per­ma­nent­ly, or offer the same ben­e­fits that cit­i­zens receive. Only Con­gress can do that. All we’re say­ing is we’re not going to deport you.”

“I know some of the crit­ics of the action call it amnesty. Well, it’s not. Amnesty is the immi­gra­tion sys­tem we have today. Mil­lions of peo­ple who live here with­out pay­ing their tax­es or play­ing by the rules, while politi­cians use the issue to scare peo­ple and whip up votes at elec­tion time. That’s the real amnesty, leav­ing this bro­ken sys­tem the way it is. Mass amnesty would be unfair. Mass depor­ta­tion would be both impos­si­ble and con­trary it to our character. ”

Democ­rats and advo­cates for immi­grants’ rights hailed the speech.

“Tonight Pres­i­dent Oba­ma out­lined humane, nec­es­sary reforms to pro­vide relief to hard-work­ing, law-abid­ing Wash­ing­ton fam­i­lies and to sup­port our state’s econ­o­my, includ­ing the impor­tant agri­cul­tur­al sec­tor,” said Wash­ing­ton Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee. “The plan will also increase bor­der secu­ri­ty and enforce­ment where it should be — against crim­i­nals and indi­vid­u­als who would pose a threat to our nation­al security.”

“I have repeat­ed­ly urged Con­gress to pass com­pre­hen­sive immi­gra­tion reform. The president’s action should not absolve Con­gress of its respon­si­bil­i­ty to act in the face of a bro­ken immi­gra­tion sys­tem. Wash­ing­ton res­i­dents and busi­ness­es have wait­ed long enough for action.”

U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Suzan Del­Bene concurred.

“Every­one agrees that our immi­gra­tion sys­tem is bro­ken, but after more than a year of refus­ing to act on immi­gra­tion reform leg­is­la­tion, House Repub­li­cans have shown them­selves to be unwill­ing to make progress on this impor­tant issue,” said Del­Bene. “Time and again, they have refused to bring mean­ing­ful leg­is­la­tion to a vote on the House floor. If Repub­li­can lead­ers allowed a vote on H.R. 15, the bipar­ti­san bill that I helped intro­duce, it would like­ly pass by a strong majority.”

“In light of House Repub­li­cans’ con­sis­tent fail­ure to act on immi­gra­tion reform, I under­stand Pres­i­dent Obama’s deci­sion to take rea­son­able steps to pro­vide tem­po­rary relief to the fam­i­lies being torn apart by our cur­rent sys­tem. The Admin­is­tra­tion should focus its lim­it­ed enforce­ment resources on indi­vid­u­als who pose a threat to pub­lic safe­ty, not hon­or stu­dents and work­ers con­tribut­ing to our econ­o­my. We must con­tin­ue the crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant efforts to ensure a secure bor­der and the depor­ta­tion of dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals, and the President’s actions today are con­sis­tent with this priority.”

“The only long-term solu­tion to fix our bro­ken immi­gra­tion sys­tem is for Con­gress to ful­fill its respon­si­bil­i­ty to pass leg­is­la­tion. My com­mit­ment to pass­ing immi­gra­tion reform remains unwa­ver­ing, and I look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to work with my col­leagues on both sides of the aisle to achieve this goal.”


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