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Thread: Obama to pursue executive action on immigration

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  1. #1
    Senior Member florgal's Avatar
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    Obama to pursue executive action on immigration

    Official: Boehner says no immigration vote this year, Obama to pursue executive actions

    Published June 30,


    President Barack Obama speaks while meeting with Chile's President Michelle Bachelet Monday, June 30, 2014, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.AP

    President Obama plans to announce a new effort to make unilateral changes to the country's immigration system after Speaker John Boehner told the president the House will not vote on an immigration overhaul this year, a senior White House official said.
    The president plans to speak on the issue at 2:50 p.m. ET, from the Rose Garden.
    Despite Boehner's threat to file a lawsuit against the president over alleged executive overreach, a senior White House official said Obama will take steps on his own to change immigration policies through executive actions, without congressional approval.
    The official said Obama will first direct the Homeland Security and Justice departments to "move available and appropriate enforcement resources from our interior to the border." Further, the president has directed a team to "identify additional actions and send recommendations to him by the end of the summer on steps he can take without Congress, but within his existing authorities, to fix as much of our broken immigration system as we can."
    Obama's decision effectively declares that a broad based change in immigration policy is dead for the year, and perhaps for the remainder of his administration. Changing immigration laws and providing a path to citizenship for about 11 million immigrants in the country illegally has been one Obama's top priorities as he sought to conclude his presidency with a major second-term victory.
    Meanwhile, the president is still grappling with a surge of illegal immigrant children and families along the border. Earlier in the day, Obama sent a letter to congressional leaders asking for more flexibility on that front, seeking increased powers to send unaccompanied children from Central American back from the U.S. border to the countries they're trying to flee illegally.
    Obama also asked for increased penalties for persons who smuggle immigrants who are vulnerable, such as children. The request is part of a broader administration response to what the White House has called a "humanitarian crisis" on the border.
    Obama is asking Congress for emergency money that would, among other things, help conduct "an aggressive deterrence strategy focused on the removal and repatriation of recent border crossers." Obama's letter to Boehner, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says the administration is confronting the influx with a coordinated response on both sides of the border.
    "This includes fulfilling our legal and moral obligation to make sure we appropriately care for unaccompanied children who are apprehended, while taking aggressive steps to surge resources to our Southwest border to deter both adults and children from this dangerous journey, increase capacity for enforcement and removal proceedings, and quickly return unlawful migrants to their home countries," Obama wrote.
    The Border Patrol in South Texas has been overwhelmed for several months by an influx of unaccompanied children and parents traveling with young children from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Unlike Mexican immigrants arrested after entering the U.S. illegally, those from Central America cannot be as easily returned to their countries. Obama is seeking authority to act more quickly
    The Border Patrol has apprehended more than 52,000 child immigrants traveling on their own since the start of the 2014 budget year in October.
    Immigrant advocacy groups, already frustrated by Obama's lack of executive action to ease record levels of deportations, immediately pounced on the administration's decision.
    Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said the influx of children across the border "really requires a humanitarian response, not an increase in deportations."
    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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    So childish, "It will be my way!"
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    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    Obama pledges to redirect immigration enforcement, conceding Congress won’t act

    By Zachary A. Goldfarb and David Nakamura June 30 at 4:20 PM
    Washington Post

    President Obama angrily conceded Monday that Congress would not overhaul immigration laws this year and announced that he will redirect immigration enforcement to the border.

    The action, which will beef up efforts to stem illegal immigration across the border but likely will slow efforts to deport longtime undocumented immigrants already in the country, is one of a series of executive actions Obama pledged to take after House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told him last week that he would not allow an immigration vote this year.

    In Rose Garden remarks, the president chided Republicans as bowing to extreme pressures in their party rather than pursuing common sense changes backed by most Americans and passed by the Senate last year.

    “Our country and our economy would be stronger today if House Republicans had allowed a simple yes-or-no vote on this bill or, for that matter, any bill,” Obama said, raising his voice. “Instead they’ve proven again and again that they’re unwilling to stand up to the tea party in order to do what’s best for the country. And the worst part about it is, a bunch of them know better.”

    While Obama was one of the last to acknowledge that immigration legislation was going to nowhere this year, the moment still represented a low point for him and the collapse of perhaps his biggest second-term priority. For over a year, White House officials have held out hope that Republicans in the House would pass an overhaul of immigration laws, driven by pressure from business interests and a political desire to win Latino votes.

    “Speaker Boehner told the president exactly what he has been telling him: The American people and their elected officials don’t trust him to enforce the law as written,” said Michael Steel, a Boehner spokesman. “Until that changes, it is going to be difficult to make progress on this issue.”

    Now, Obama himself is likely to face intense pressure from immigration activists who believe the president has waited far too long to take executive action to slow deportations. As one immigration advocacy group tweeted Monday during Obama’s remarks: “It’s in his hands.”

    Immigration activists are calling on Obama to speed up an internal review of deportation enforcement policies that he had put on hold until after the summer while waiting for the House to act on legislation.

    Democrats and advocates have urged Obama to significantly expand a 2012 decision to defer the deportations of young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. That decision has provided legal protections for more than 500,000 people, who are allowed to work and remain in the country for two-year periods that are renewable.

    Obama has stated repeatedly that he is legally unable to expand that program, but aides have said White House officials are reviewing all options to make immigration laws more “humane.”

    In his remarks Monday, Obama said he would pursue executive actions to address immigration now that the House has declared it will not act. He said he wants a full list of potential actions from his administration by the end of the summer.

    “The only thing I can’t do is stand by and do nothing while waiting for them to get their act together,” he said.

    Obama was careful to frame actions he might take as designed to better secure the border. But given the finite resources he has to enforce immigration laws, the effect is likely to be a refocusing of federal efforts on national security, border enforcement and violent offenders, and less of an emphasis on detaining and deporting longtime immigrants.

    “Protecting public safety and deporting dangerous criminals has been and will remain the top priority, but we are going to refocus our efforts where we can to make sure we do what it takes to keep our border secure,” Obama said.

    During his reelection campaign, Obama professed hope that Republicans would finally back a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws should he win a second term. Some hoped that might occur this summer, after Republican primaries ended, or perhaps in the lame-duck session following the midterm elections.

    Earlier Monday, the Obama administration announced it will ask Congress for emergency funding and new statutory authority to stem a surge of undocumented women and children from Central America coming into the country illegally along the south Texas border.

    Officials have said they will seek more than $2 billion for additional border patrol agents, immigration judges and detention facilities to help deport the immigrants more quickly.

    The move has outraged human rights and immigration advocates, who have criticized the administration for potentially sending the women and children back to countries with escalating gang violence. Most of the influx of 52,000 unaccompanied children and 39,000 women with children who have been apprehended on the border this year are coming from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

    But the administration’s announcement that Obama will simultaneously pursue administration actions that could slow deportations and provide administrative relief to immigrants who have been living here without documentation for years could offset some of the concerns.

    On a conference call earlier Monday, some advocates expressed doubt about such a strategy.

    “We will not sacrifice these children [on the border] in hopes of some reform or administrative relief,” said Kevin Appleby, migration policy director for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “These issues should be addressed separately and humanely. I know that’s not how Washington works sometimes, but our job is to protect these children regardless of politics.”

    In his remarks Monday, Obama reaffirmed that nothing can replace Congressional action to overhaul immigration laws and expressed hope that efforts could resume next year.

    “Whenever it is, they will find a willing partner,” he said.

    In a letter to Congress on Monday, Obama called on lawmakers to help the administration build an “aggressive deterrence strategy” to deal with the influx of women and children entering the United States illegally from Central America.

    “This surge of resources will mean that cases are processed fairly and as quickly as possible,” Obama wrote, “ensuring the protection of asylum seekers and refugees while enabling the prompt removal of individuals who do not qualify for asylum or other forms of relief from removal.”

    Said Steel: “We appreciate the update from the White House, but there are too few details – at this point – to determine whether their proposal would be effective. We await the actual request.”
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