President Obama to Outline Executive Action on Immigration Reform Thursday
By Glynn Cosker
Editor, In Homeland Security
Going against his vow to involve Congress on any of his initiatives to reform immigration rules, President Barack Obama is poised to announce comprehensive changes to immigration law Thursday. The executive order he plans to sign this week will reportedly give as many as 5 million undocumented illegal aliens the right to stay and work in the U.S.
By introducing such changes now, the move will sidestep a newly-elected Republican-led U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, angering many on Capitol Hill and even raising eyebrows among some of the president’s supporters. Only last year, the president reiterated his stance that unilateral immigration reform was not on his agenda.
“I’m the president of the United States. I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed, and Congress right now has not changed what I consider to be a broken immigration system,” said Obama on Feb. 14, 2013.
However, speaking from the White House in a video posted to Facebook, Obama stated his intention to circumvent debated legislation on immigration reform. He stated that he will address the nation in prime-time Thursday night and will introduce executive actions while in Las Vegas. He plans to sign and promote his new rules Friday.
“Everybody agrees that our immigration system is broken. Unfortunately, Washington has allowed the problem to fester for far too long,” said Obama in his video. “And so what I’m going to be laying out is the things that I can do with my lawful authority as President to make the system work better, even as I continue to work with Congress to encourage them to get a bipartisan, comprehensive bill that can solve the entire problem.”
Not surprisingly, Republicans on Capitol Hill reacted negatively to the president’s announcement.
“We strongly urge you to respect the Constitution and abandon any unconstitutional, unilateral executive actions on immigration,” stated Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) in a pointed letter to Obama. “Let’s secure the border, enforce our immigration laws in the interior of the United States, and build a broad consensus for immigration reform. Otherwise, as the chairmen of the committees with oversight over border security and our nation’s immigration laws, we will be forced to use the tools afforded to Congress by the Constitution to stop your administration from successfully carrying out your plan.”
Others were less diplomatic in their response:
“If ‘Emperor Obama’ ignores the American people and announces an amnesty plan that he himself has said over and over again exceeds his Constitutional authority, he will cement his legacy of lawlessness and ruin the chances for Congressional action on this issue – and many others,” said House Speaker John Boehner in a statement.
The president will address the nation in a televised announcement Thursday night.
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