Timing Is Only Problem With Obama's Order
President Obama did the right thing in issuing an executive order to curtail deportation of illegals who have grown up in the United States, graduated high school and have not run afoul of the law.
My disappointment lies in the fact that he did not do it earlier.
The timing rightly taints the act with political opportunism. Ensuing discussion has focused on the politics of the move rather than the benefits to young Hispanic men and women who have grown up in the United States.
It's about time something was done about this group. Can you imagine your son or daughter, having graduated from high school and possibly college, not being able to get a job because of something you did 15 years ago?
Allowing such individuals to remain on a work visa buys them time until the issue is settled by legislation. It allows them to contribute fully to the American economy by taking jobs commensurate with their qualifications and frees them from potential exploitation by employers. It allows them to function legally in society. In my view, it is the least we can do.
The politics are not surprising. Contrary to the protestations of the right, the Dream Act is not the product of the left, and President Obama's actions do not constitute an imperial exercise of power.
Lest we forget, the Dream Act - which called for a path to full citizenship for such individuals - was introduced by Republican senators in the first Bush administration. To repeat, in 2001 an effort was launched by the Republican Party to deal with individuals who came to the U.S. illegally as children.
Clearly, however, it was not high on President Bush's legislative agenda, falling to the wayside as many bills in Congress typically do. John McCain was heavily involved in subsequent legislation on the same issue. President Obama called for its enactment while running for office, and he worked actively to get the bill passed, only - not surprisingly - to run into a Republican roadblock. This, in my view, is when he should have acted unilaterally.
A number of critics have decried his use of executive authority in this matter. Not being able to move the bill through Congress does not necessarily give the president the right to do his own thing. However, presidents have traditionally used, constitutionally, their executive powers to dictate policy in areas not specifically covered by congressional legislation.
If Congress is displeased with this or any executive order, all it needs to do is pass legislation to the contrary. By way of background, President Bush issued >almost 300 executive orders while he was in office.
Citizens need to decide on their own whether America is better off as a result of Obama's decision to go easy on those illegals that came to this country in their youth. Forget the politics of the issue, for that is exactly what it is - politics.
Do you want to give such people a break or not? How would you like your children to be treated? Would you like to know where presidential candidate Romney stands on the issue? Are you disappointed that he refuses to give an answer to the question?
In many regards, the hoopla around the immigration issue is reflective of the larger imbroglio that characterizes the federal government and its leadership. Even while advancing essentially Republican solutions, President Obama has been cast time and time again as an intransigent socialist who would not work with Congress.
The lack of movement due to Republican-manufactured congressional gridlock (the same Republican senators who signed on to the grand bargain to fix the debt helped sustain a Senate filibuster that prevented it from happening) has caused many to question his leadership.
Only recently has the president's frustration with Congress caused him to use his executive powers to move his agenda forward - gays in the military, recess appointments, nonsupport for the Defense of Marriage Act, immigration reform. Now the same Republicans who refuse to work with the president in Congress take him to task for being imperial in undertaking unilateral actions in areas where Congress normally has a say.
At the end of the day, this president has been and will continue to be pilloried by Republicans, no matter what he does. As in the case of immigration reform, the news is all about the president's values and leadership and/or congressional stonewalling. There is little discussion about the impact of the issue on the American people and the American way of life.
Voters need to get beyond the political rhetoric and personal political affiliations and focus on the facts. They need to ask themselves who is trying to advance solutions that work best for them.
Paul Ericson teaches social studies at Pinecrest High School. He previously served with the U.S. Army and the Central Intelligence Agency.
More like this story