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The Executive Order Way


The idea is to suspend deportations until a resolution is reached

Alberto Avendaño/op-ed | 10/25/2013, 4:57 p.m.
The Executive Order Way
Obama pensando: caricatura de GOGUE | GOGUE

It seems unavoidable that a president repudiates some of his positions once in office. The man who ran on change and hope has provided very little of both to the immigration issue.

In June 2012 Obama used his executive powers to halt deportations of “dreamers” —those young undocumented immigrants who came to this country as children. Arguably, Obama’s “mini Dream Act” helped him get reelected with a record setting vote from Hispanics and Asians. His Deferred Action program via executive action helped hundreds of thousands young undocumented Americans. Inaction would have meant the continuation of an unacceptable status quo for a generation of kids who have known no other land than the United Sates. Certainly, many republicans protested the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program calling it an Obama’s “abuse of power” when in reality it is part of the American democratic game: The branches of government are expected to push and pull.

Such an executive power action by Obama would send a clear message: The president is acting without Congress, and the president will act unilaterally unless Congress sends him an immigration bill.

Currently, the House of Representatives —with Republican majority— is stuck on immigration policy. Nothing new: President Bush was beaten up by Congress over the same issue in 2006.

That’s the reason many voices from Latino organizations, faith groups, and Democrats in Congress like Luis Gutiérrez claim that Obama could expand the Deferred Action program to include the 11 million undocumented workers that reside in the country, many of whom are parents or family of the young “dreamers”.

The idea is to suspend deportations until a resolution has been reached on the immigration bill currently being debated in the House. Many think that if Congress does not act on the issue, it is on Obama’s power to stop deportations with the stroke of a pen. Such an executive power action by Obama would send a clear message: The president is acting without Congress, and the president will act unilaterally unless Congress sends him an immigration bill.

An executive order is a presidential directive that carries the force of law. Such an action is part of the American democracy. Some examples: Abraham’s Lincoln “Emancipation Proclamation” was enacted by an executive order; president Truman accomplished racial integration of the military by executive order; president Nixon declared the “War on Drugs” via an executive order; president Clinton expanded the executive privilege as well as Bush and Obama who has continued the trend issuing 144 executive orders in his first four years.

Executive action to halt all deportations of undocumented immigrants who have not committed serious crimes it’d be politically consistent and within precedent. However, the staggering number of deportations under Obama —1.5 million people in his first term— has left thousands of children in foster care after their parents were deported, according to a study by the Applied Research Center.

For how long will the president repudiate his promises to the Hispanic voter?