Today, we learned that President Obama will announce his intention to take executive action as a first-step, temporary solution to our outdated immigration system. The announcement will be made during a televised address Thursday at 7 p.m Central with a detailed speech on the plan coming Friday in Las Vegas.
Administrative relief granted by the President is a wise, reasonable, and precedented action that could put an immediate stop to the destruction of thousands of American families every day.
Action from the President does not in any way replace the need for Congress to pass updated immigration laws that reflect the current needs of our communities and economy. In fact, it is a good first step toward that. It is a temporary policy on the road to long-term immigration reform that comes after more than a year of the House failing to take action.
Recently, the national immigration group America’s Voice put together a list of reasons to illustrate why Executive Action from President Obama is a necessary and prudent step for the United States.
It’s time to do something productive on immigration.
Since Congress has refused to deliver on a legislative fix, the President must move the ball forward. The real radical option is doing nothing and maintaining the harmful status quo. The only way to fix our antiquated immigration laws for the long-term is for Congress to work together to pass bipartisan legislation. Yet after an historic 68-32 bill passage in the Senate in June 2013, the House of Representatives refused to even vote on common-sense immigration reform.
Executive action is smart law enforcement and makes our communities safer.
Executive action is a smarter use of U.S. tax dollars. It will better direct law enforcement and immigration resources at national security threats, human traffickers and serious criminals, rather than spending billions of dollars deporting law-abiding immigrants who have lived in our country for years, working and raising families.
Executive action would expand the tax base.
Undocumented immigrants already pay significant local, state, and federal taxes, and executive action would boost our economy even further. If undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for at least five years are eligible to apply for work permits, a report by the Center for American Progress estimates that this will add $6 billion more in payroll taxes in just one year. Over five years, it would contribute $45 billion in payroll taxes to the U.S. economy.
Executive action would help immigrants who are American in every way but their paperwork.
Those likely to be eligible for executive action are hardworking members of American families who came here for the same reason earlier immigrants came to America: to build a better life. They have deep ties in this country, are law-abiding, and may have children or spouses who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. But under our outdated immigration system, there is no line to get into, no process to sign up for and no way to fix their situation.
There is a long history of presidents taking action on immigration within their well established legal authority.
Legal experts agree: the President of the United States has broad authority to take executive action on immigration. And over the past 60 years, every President since Eisenhower, including Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, has taken immigration-related executive actions (a total of 39 times). For example, President George H. W. Bush’s Administration issued a “Family Fairness” policy that allowed 1.5 million spouses and children of legalized immigrants – nearly half of the undocumented population at the time – to apply for deferred action.
This is a practical first step while Americans wait for Congress to do its job and deliver a legislative solution.
There are 11 million undocumented immigrants in America, a population the size of the state of Ohio. Most live in families and have deep ties to America, yet there is no line for them to get in until we fix our outdated laws. Separating all of those families through continued deportation or arrest is as impractical as it is immoral.
The most pragmatic, humane, and sensible option — not only for immigrant Americans, but for our country — is for Congress to pass common-sense immigration laws that include a clear process for citizenship. This keeps families together, boosts our economy, and lets us all move America forward together.