Thursday, November 20, 2014

Obama to Announce New Immigration Policy Tonight

To be sure, immigration has been a hotly contested issue in this country since the country's founding.  As the world has become more globally connected, it seems that America's comprehensive immigration system has become increasingly inadequate at realistically dealing with those millions who would join our nation, especially when you consider that many of those millions are already here.  Throughout the years, the United States has been forced to deal with this problem through the Executive Branch which is the branch of the federal government charged with executing the laws passed by Congress.  I've written on the legality of this Executive Power before.  In a nutshell, when Congress passes most of its laws, it purposely leaves room for the Executive Branch to use its "prosecutorial discretion" in implementing those laws through the Executive's own Code of Federal Regulations, which are rules written by the Executive Branch that spell out in greater detail how the Executive Branch plans to actually carry out the laws passed by Congress.  The reasoning behind this is simple: Congress, as the law making body, recognizes that the people who are actually on the ground executing the law every day are in the best position to know when discretion should be used.  This is why police officers are allowed to let you go "with a warning" when you've been pulled over for speeding or why a prosecutor is allowed to decide whether or not to bring charges against someone or cut them a deal.  It's all about prosecutorial discretion.

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan used that same prosecutorial discretion to allow the children of people legalized under the 1986 immigration law to remain in the country.  In 1990, President George H.W. Bush used his prosecutorial discretion to extended that same benefit to spouses.  So for all of the political posturing that has come about over President Obama's propose use of prosecutorial discretion, the United States Executive Branch has already established a precedent on this issue.  So what exactly is Obama proposing and is it different from what has been done in the past by other Presidents?

Per the WaPo:

The Post's David Nakamura and Pamela Constable reported Wednesday evening that the executive action would have several components:
  1. It would offer a temporary legal status to the undocumented parents of children who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, where the immediate threat of deportation would be removed. The order would require the parents to have lived in the U.S. for a set period of years - probably five.
  2. Millions of these undocumented immigrants would also be eligible to apply for work permits.
  3. The president will also expand the 2012 program that deferred the deportations of nearly 600,000 younger immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children. Obama could raise (or eliminate) the maximum eligibility age, currently set at 30, and could raise the maximum arrival age above 16. It is not known by how much he'll do either of those things.
  4. Disappointing immigrant advocates, however, the executive action does not appear to extend protections to hundreds of thousands of parents of these "dreamers."
  5. Obama also will take steps to expand visas for high-tech workers; modify federal immigrant detention procedures; and add resources to strengthen security at the border.

Meanwhile, for those who may think this President has a soft spot for immigrants, President Obama has deported more immigrants than any other President in U.S. history:

But where does that leave us?  And more importantly, what is the right approach to our immigration problem in this country?

Chime in with your thoughts on this new immigration policy.

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