President Barack Obama shouldn’t need to resort to executive action to take steps toward solving the nation’s immigration mess.
But from all indications, the president intends to invoke the power of his office in the coming days or weeks to lift the threat of deportation for as many as 5 million people who came to this country without documentation.
Speaking to reporters in Myanmar, Obama said Friday he told House Speaker John Boehner months ago that if Congress failed to overhaul immigration law, he “would use all the lawful authority that I possess to try to make the system work better, and that’s going to happen.”
Republicans, emboldened by their midterm election victories, probably will react badly. Some will call for his impeachment. Boehner has said such a move by Obama would so sour relations that nothing would get done, as if they’ve been singing “Kumbaya“ up to now.
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Instead of going to war, House and Senate Republicans ought to show they can lead by finally approving a comprehensive overhaul.
The New York Times fueled the most recent discussion by reporting what surely was a trial balloon on Friday.
Quoting unnamed Obama administration officials, The Times said Obama will announce an overhaul of the immigration enforcement system that could protect as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation and provide many of them with work permits.
Additionally, many parents of children who are American citizens or legal residents could obtain legal status, hold down jobs, and no longer worry about being deported.
White House officials are debating whether to include protections for farmworkers who have entered the country illegally but have been employed for years in the agriculture industry, a move that could affect hundreds of thousands of people. It shouldn’t be a point of contention. The agricultural industry needs experienced hands.
Although the details remain to be unveiled, we do not see much of anything to quibble with. The people Obama wants to help are integral to the fabric and the economy of California and the Southwest. They should not be ignored.
Few politicians understand the reality of immigration better than congressional Republicans who represent California’s Central Valley, starting with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, and continuing north to the districts of Reps. David Valadao, Devin Nunes, Jeff Denham of Turlock and Doug LaMalfa of Richvale.
McCarthy and other reasonable Republicans have a great opportunity to lead the rest of the nation.
Boehner and McCarthy, who must manage an unruly crew, may believe Obama and hard-line members of the GOP caucus are backing them into a corner. But the true losers in this impasse are the individuals who came here seeking to better their lives and the businesses that rely on them.
Boehner was quoted as saying House Republicans would “fight the president tooth and nail” if Obama invokes his executive authority powers. What he and McCarthy ought to do is fight to craft legislation that Democrats can support and that helps solve the problem.