Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Fight Over Immigration Reform

President Obama recently made an executive action to help reform immigration on Thursday. Before he announced the move, John Boehner and Ted Cruz hopped on Youtube to denounce the move. I have seen a lot of people talking about how Obama has overstepped his authority. Obama has since made a speech announcing the move. The media has now had a chance to poke and prod at the facts and present an opinion that misrepresents them. In this blog post I'm going to explore a basic timeline on how this came to be, and then I am going to also look at immigration reform through executive actions in the past.

The Timeline

  • July 1, 2010 - President Obama announces support for immigration reform framework set up by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
  • December 18, 2010 - The Dream Act vote fails in the Senate. Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) stated that the Dream Act would not be passed alone without some provision to help secure the borders. He stated that it must be part of comprehensive reform. Pundits state that it is unlikely immigration reform will be addressed within the next two years.
  • November 8, 2012 - House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) stated that immigration reform would be a top priority of the 113th Congress.
  • December 21, 2012 - Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials announce that the agency has surpassed it's record number of deportations in the past fiscal year. The new record is set at 409,849 deportations.
  • April 25, 2013 - Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) announces that the House Judiciary Committee will unveil a series of measures aimed at fixing the immigration system bit by bit. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) both state that this approach  has not worked in the past and will not work in the future. They both state that it must be a comprehensive bill.
  • June 27, 2013 - The Senate passes The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. A bi-partisan and comprehensive bill for immigration reform.
  • June 27, 2013 - House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) says, "The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes. We're going to do our own bill, through regular order."
  • January 30, 2014 - House Republicans release a list of general principles they plan to adhere to when talking about immigration reform.
  • February 6, 2014 - House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) states that the President has to prove that he will enforce immigration law before any immigration reform will be passed. He does not say what actions the President would need to take to prove this.
  • March 13, 2014 - President Obama asks Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to do an inventory of current deportation practices to see how it can be conducted in a more humane manner.
  • March 26, 2014 - House Democrats start a discharge petition hoping to bring the bill passed in the Senate to a vote. They are unable to get the required amount of signatures with House Republicans blocking the move.
  • April 8, 2014 - House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) states that President Obama has made it almost impossible to ever do immigration reform because of possible changes to deportation policy. He is referring to the study President Obama asked Homeland Security to conduct to make deportation more humane.
  • May 27, 2014 - President Obama asks the Homeland Security chief to hold off on completing a review of U.S. deportation policies to allow the House of Representatives more time to resolve the issue through legislation.
  • June 2, 2014 - President Obama declares an urgent humanitarian situation in response to a more than 90 percent increase of unaccompanied children attempting to cross the border. Most of the children attempting to cross the border are fleeing an increase in sustained violence in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico. Republicans blame Obama for not securing the border, and Democrats blame Republicans for blocking legislation that would allocate more resources towards securing the border.
  • June 25, 2014 - House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announces plans to sue President Obama "in an effort to compel the president to follow his oath of office and faithfully execute the laws of our country." He doesn't specify which laws the lawsuit would include. The White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, "The fact that they are considering a taxpayer funded lawsuit against the president of the United States for doing his job, I think is the kind of step that most Americans wouldn't support." Boehner's timeline includes him bringing a bill up for a vote in July that would authorize the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group to sue the president.
  • June 30, 2014 - President Obama announces his plan to move forward with an executive action for immigration reform. He urges House Republicans to pass a bill to fix the problem if they are concerned about these executive actions. President Obama had spoken with John Boehner (R-OH) the previous week and was told that the House of Representatives would not vote on immigration reform this year. President Obama lashed out saying that the newest excuse for the Republicans lack of action equates to House Republicans saying, "because the system is broken, we shouldn't make an effort to fix it." He also said, "If Congress will not do their jobs, at least we can do ours."
  • July 3, 2014 - President Obama responds to a potential lawsuit brought forth by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) by saying, "Middle-class families can't wait for Republicans in Congress to do stuff. So sue me". He also said, "As long as they're doing nothing, I'm not going to apologize for trying to do something."
  • July 29, 2014 - House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) states that the House of Representatives "will not take up the Senate immigration reform bill or accept it back from the Senate in any fashion."
  • September 3, 2014 - House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) states that immigration reform could still happen next year as long as President Obama enforces the law and doesn't change deportation procedures.
  • September 6, 2014 - President Obama decides to delay taking executive actions towards immigration reform until after mid-term elections.
  • November 5, 2014 - President Obama states that he still plans to make an excutive action to implement immigration reform before the end of the year. He also states that any future legislation by Congress would negate any executive action taken.
  • November 6, 2014 - House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) states that there is no chance for immigration reform over the next two years if President Obama issues an executive action. He goes on to claim that the influx of unaccompanied minors caught crossing the border from Mexico illegally was the cause of inaction by the House. He also blames President Obama for this mass border crossing.
  • November 21, 2014 - House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) claims that the executive action has sabotaged chances for bipartisan legislation.
  • November 21, 2014 - President Obama makes his speech announcing his executive action. He asks Congress to "Pass a bill" if they question his authority to put forth this executive action.

Past Executive Actions

  • In 1987 President Ronald Reagan extended protection to minor children of parents who had been granted amnesty.
  • In 1990 President George H. W. Bush established a "family fairness" program that gave protection to family members who were living with immigrants that had been granted amnesty if they had entered the country prior to 1986.


While researching this blog post I came across quite a few things that I thought I knew which turned out to be false. It's surprising how effective a mis-information campaign can be when presented by the press. It just reiterates a blog post I made previously about verifying your news sources.

Based on what I have found, it seems like House Republicans have no intention of working on immigration reform. At least not anytime soon. This is a political ploy to paint President Obama into a corner, forcing him to use executive actions to address the problem. Any executive action is a temporary band-aid over a much bigger problem that can only be fixed by legislation through Congress. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has used every excuse he can make up to explain the delay. Any action that President Obama takes is a convenient excuse even if it's as innocuous as conducting a study to see if current execution of policy can be improved upon. The influx of unaccompanied children to the border has forced President Obama's hand, but the actions of House Republicans caused a delay in action in hopes that they might actually do something. Then Obama delayed action again because of mid-term elections.

Republicans seem to want President Obama to use executive actions, so they can try to portray him as an evil emperor. They will use that as a major talking point to push for the 2016 election for president. It doesn't help that Obama's frustration is showing. His comments telling them to "sue me" doesn't help, and it feeds into Republican complaints that the president is hard to work with. Perhaps he is, or perhaps he is less patient with the political moves that delay the process.

The future looks to have more of the same with the Republicans taking control of the Senate as well as solidifying their hold on the House even more. Any action taken is unlikely to gain bipartisan support because House Republicans seem to only want to address parts of the problem, ignoring the rest. Boehner claims that these executive actions have sabotaged future efforts, but I feel like the opposite should be true. If House Republicans don't like President Obama's executive action then they should feel an urgent need to pass a bill that invalidates the executive action. Thus far it seems as if House Republicans are the only ones delaying action. Instead it looks like they are going to use President Obama's executive action as an excuse to do nothing in order to use it as a political talking point in 2016.

Related Links

Details on President Obama's executive action:

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) response on Youtube:

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