[guest post by Dana]
For example, there are those in the immigrants’ rights community who have argued passionately that we should simply provide those who are [here] illegally with legal status, or at least ignore the laws on the books and put an end to deportation until we have better laws. And often this argument is framed in moral terms: Why should we punish people who are just trying to earn a living?
I recognize the sense of compassion that drives this argument, but I believe such an indiscriminate approach would be both unwise and unfair. It would suggest to those thinking about coming here illegally that there will be no repercussions for such a decision. And this could lead to a surge in more illegal immigration. And it would also ignore the millions of people around the world who are waiting in line to come here legally.
President Obama’s response to an immigration challenge, November, 2013:
“I need your help,” a young man shouted, as he called for the president to halt the deportations of some of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. “You have a power to stop deportations for all.”
“Actually, I don’t, and that’s why we’re here,” the president responded as the heckler and several others continued shouting, breaking out into a chant of “stop deportations!”
“Now, what you need to know, when I’m speaking as president of the United States, and I come to this community, is that, in fact, if I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so,” Obama said. “But we’re also a nation of laws. That’s part of our tradition. And so the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws.”
“What I’m proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve, but it won’t be as easy as just shouting,” he continued. “It requires us lobbying and getting it done.”
President Obama, now:
[White House] officials are laying the groundwork for a large-scale expansion of immigrant rights that would come by executive action within weeks.
Officials signaled strongly Friday that Obama’s move would shield from deportation large numbers of immigrants living in the country illegally, as advocacy groups have demanded.
Roughly 5 million of the estimated 11 million people who entered the country without legal authorization or overstayed their visas could be protected under a leading option the White House is considering, according to officials who discussed the proposals on condition of anonymity.
Further, it is expected he will make the move before the end of summer, in spite of the concerns of vulnerable red-state Democrats facing mid-term re-elections.
How big of a move is the president planning?
“He seems resolute that he’s going to go big and go soon,” says Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-reform group America’s Voice.