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Executive Action: Immigration

On Thursday, November 20th President Obama announced he will be using executive action to deal with the immigration crisis that afflicts our entire nation, not just our southern borders.

So what’s the big deal?

There are already approximately 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States. This past summer, a record number of undocumented minors crossed the border. An estimated 60,000 crossed the border this year, and that number is expected to double by 2015. Next year, it is estimated that unaccompanied, undocumented minors who illegally cross the border will cost tax payers 2 billion dollars. Washington is at a crossroads when it comes to figuring out to finance food, housing, and transportation for these minors if and when they are taken into custody.

The conflict in DC between Democrats and Republicans about how to solve the immigration crisis is not new.

In 2013, the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill. However, this bill never came up for a vote in the House, thus the partisan battle for an immigration solution surges on. President Obama blamed Congress’s inability to pass immigration legislation on Republicans in the House of Representatives who refused to allow a vote on the bill. Claiming to be a proponent of having the parties work together, Obama stated:“I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common-sense law.”

But President Obama is not working with anyone. As he stated before, he is going to overhaul immigration reform all on his own.

President Obama’s plan is to allow about 5 million illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S. with no worries of being deported. These immigrants would have to pass criminal background checks in order to stay, and they would have to pay their taxes. Obama claims that this is allowing the illegal immigrants to “get right with the law.” But is allowing 5 million illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S. and receive certain benefits of citizenry without actually obtaining citizenship lawful? Moreover, is it lawful on Obama’s part to act unilaterally over such a contested issue?

President Obama has come under a lot of scrutiny for his actions. The Right has popularly dubbed him “King Obama” in regards to him acting completely unilaterally. Republican House Speaker John Boehner claims that Obama is acting like a king when, “the American people want nothing more than for us to work together.” Boehner also stated, “instead of working together to fix our broken immigration system, the president says he’s acting on his own. But that is just not how our democracy works.” 

The battle over immigration is not over. Beginning in January, Republicans will have control of Congress. Already they have indicated to the president that they are dissatisfied with his master plan. 

Here’s where you can watch or read the speech. 

Sources: 1 / 2 / 3

Junior Political Science and Legal Studies Double Major at UMass Amherst.