STORY BY KATE HAVENS
Washington D.C. is heating up with President Barack Obama’s announcement of his executive action on illegal immigration. On Nov. 20, Obama outlined his plan to deal with the U.S.’s problematic immigration system.
According to boston.com Obama plans to grant amnesty to undocumented immigrants via executive orders who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years, formally register, pass a background check and are willing to pay taxes.
This list of qualifications will enable roughly five million immigrants to stay in the U.S. It is believed that there are about 11 million undocumented immigrants here today.
Obama’s executive action also expands protection from deportation to those who came immigrated as children. This shifts the priority to the deportation of criminals first by adding judges to the border region, so immigrant cases are handled quickly.
Nothing about this action allows for the permission of citizenship, just the promise of not being deported.
Republicans are the biggest critics of this plan. Some feel Obama has overstepped his authority. However, past presidents’ actions might suggest otherwise.
Visiting assistant professor of politics Gayle Alberda sheds light on different presidents’ executive action history.
“Obama has issued fewer executive orders than most presidents,” Alberda said. “Obama utilizes this power less than his predecessors. Obama is not the only president to issue an executive order on immigration. Reagan and Bush Senior both issued them as well, and, in doing so, deferred the deportation of roughly 1.6 million undocumented immigrations collectively.”
Recently, the Republicans have withheld from voting on immigration reform. In reaction Republicans have a pair of options. Come up with an alternative immigration system, or punish the president for overstepping his boundaries.
This could involve another government shutdown or impeachment threats. Democrats, on the other hand, are looking forward to future elections hoping there will now be a stronger bond between the Hispanic population and the Democratic Party.
Aside from Obama crossing lines Republicans believe he shouldn’t have, there may be several flaws within his plan itself. Immigrants who meet the qualifications and are granted a work permit only get that guarantee for three years.
“The deferrals are, in theory ,renewable, but the executive order does not establish a pathway to citizenship,” said associate professor of sociology Michael Haedicke.
Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Vice President of Government Affairs Geoff Burr told the Washing Times, “An abrupt temporary executive action ultimately does more harm than good in fixing our broken immigration system.”
It appears the president may know this already. Obama called for Congress to step up and work on some legislation.
“Pass a bill,” Obama said in his speech. “I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution.”
“Congress failed to act,” Alberda said. “He is going to act. If Congress opts to act, then that will be the policy.”
This latest D.C. situation could have an effect on Drake students. Associate Provost and Professor of Politics Arthur Sanders and Haedicke gave some insight.
“The executive order also expands the deferral program for young people who arrived in the U.S. as children,” Haedicke said. “This expansion will directly affect some students by providing protection from deportation. Students whose parents are living in the country without documentation will also experience greater family security as a result of the President’s action, provided that their parents meet the eligibility criteria.”
Still, in comparison to the U.S.’s population the percentage of people who fit that bill is small.
However, college institutions may be affected by this plan.
“This order also might make it easier for some college-age immigrants to apply to college, but it is not likely that very many would end up at Drake,” Sanders said.