I wonder how many people today remember President George W. Bush's frustration as he finally gave up on an immigration overhaul through the Senate approximately seven years ago? He believed in "compassionate conservatism," and rewriting the immigration system was at the core of his stance.
"In May 2006, Republican senators at Bush's urging joined Democrats to offer a blanket amnesty to 12 million illegal aliens and permit US businesses to go abroad and bring in foreign workers. Senators had been shocked by the millions of Hispanics marching in America's cities under Mexican flags... President Bush was hailed for his compassion and vision."
(Patrick J. Buchanan. State of Emergency:The Third World Invasion
and Conquest of America. 2007)
Like Republican President George Bush, President Obama begged for immigration reform and failed at getting Congress to act. But, he did not give in.
Instead, Obama asked his lawyers if he could change the system on his own. His White House team decided he could. So, in a prime-time address, he announced he would wield executive power to patch up the system as best he could, temporarily shielding up to five million people from the threat of deportation.
The President plans to offer temporary relief from deportation to the parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, who have been in the country for more than five years. He'll also extend a program that already allows undocumented migrants brought here as children to stay in the country.
And, a key element of Obama's plan is to instruct immigration authorities to target those undocumented immigrants who are dangerous rather than law-abiding undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and residents and others.
The President said they will go after "felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who's working hard to provide for her kids."
(Jim Acosta and Stephen Collinson. "Obama: 'You can come out of the shadows.'"
CNN. November 21, 2014)
Of course, Republicans claim Obama is subverting the Constitution and behaving more like a king than a president. They say Obama has not only overstepped the boundaries of his authority but also "ignored the will of the people." Speaker Boehner said he told the President that the American people simply "don't trust him to enforce the law as written."
But, two avenues are open to those who claim Obama is acting like a criminal. He explained one of these alternatives:
"To those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress have failed, I have one answer. Pass a bill," Obama said.
(Stephen Collinson. "On immigration, a tale of two presidents." CNN. November 21, 2014)
And since Obama was forced to act via executive order, his moves could be wiped out with the stroke of a pen by a future president.
This executive decision came against a backdrop of crisis on the southern border as thousands of child migrants were teeming across the border. Republicans charged the human tide was triggered directly by the President's earlier executive order that offered certain categories of Dreamers -- undocumented immigrants brought the nation as children -- relief from deportation.
Both parties understand the desperate need for immigration reform. It is sorely evident that many political arguments have kept this legislation from coming forth. The longtime partisan gridlock is truly sickening in light of the urgency of the problem.
What is the real problem with the stalemate? You and I know the problem lies in the tremendous strength of the the immigrant vote. This is a block that has the potential to strengthen greatly the Democratic Party.
Yet, the right Republican support for immigration reform could also aid their voting contingent. Like most all issues, immigration has turned into a party issue. For so long now, the lack of political compromise has hurt so many Americans. Enough is enough. If parties want the votes, they must act to satisfy the immigrants.
I do understand that granting amnesty does not secure our borders. Only a fool would believe that. Yet, blocking all dreamers from American citizenship is committing blanket judgment and forcing a sick stagnancy upon our free soil. Surely, politicians have to be careful not to commit the greatest Constitution sin of believing we, present-day American citizens, control the ideals of freedom and refuge for all.
People should know that now, November 21, 2014, the President of the United States has no power to put undocumented immigrants on the long road to citizenship. He cannot grant permanent residence permits known as Green Cards, and all of his changes could be struck down by a future president.
As daunting as the task may be, each immigrant presently in America must be judged on an individual basis. This is what democracy demands. This is the burden of the government in the Land of the Free. For God's sake, we must see people as "human beings" and judge them by their merits, not as "Mexicans" or as "Latins" or as "unwanted refuse."