Obama Action Will Allow 4-5 Million to ‘Get Right With the Law’

By City News center

Southland activists hailed President Barack Obama’s announcement Thursday that he plans to sign an executive order to protect millions of people living in the country illegally from deportation, but continued to call on Congress to take more sweeping action.

“Many in our community have worked hard to advocate for protections against deportation and today’s announcement is because of their struggle,” said Martha Arevalo, executive director of the Central American Resource Center in Los Angeles. “We now have to ensure that we are ready to inform and assist the community through this process. But we cannot forget those who are being
excluded from this program, including those in detention.”

Obama announced his plans at the White House, and is scheduled to rally support for the order during a Friday morning event in Las Vegas.

Dozens of people gathered at the office of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles to watch the address, and about 30 people boarded a bus afterward to head for Obama’s Las Vegas event. The organization also plans to hold a rally at Los Angeles City Hall on Friday.

Another watch party was held in Boyle Heights, featuring members of the Mariachi Association and immigrant and community leaders.

“As a result of President Obama’s actions, many families who would otherwise be torn apart will be allowed to stay together, and 5 million immigrants will now come out of the shadows, have background checks, pay taxes and be held accountable,” said Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles. “In addition, the president has made the wise decision to devote our scarce federal resources to deporting dangerous criminals and others who pose a real threat to public safety and national security. These actions will make us safer as a society and stronger as a nation.”

Roybal-Allard, chair of the Congressional Women’s Group on Immigration Reform, also issued a statement this week stating the group has called for “an independent investigation of allegations of sexual abuse of detained immigrant mothers in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.  They also reiterated their strong belief that detention in prison-like conditions is inappropriate for families.”

About 5 million immigrants could be granted a reprieve from deportation under the president’s order. Obama has also ordered border authorities to target “felons, not families.”

Undocumented allow immigrants who are the parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents will be able to apply for relief from deportation and authorization to work for three years. To qualify, they must have been in the country for more than five years, pass a criminal background check, pay fees and show that their child was born prior to the issuance of the executive order. They will also have to pay taxes.

The executive order will also expand on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children, by removing the upper age limit of 30. The DACA program will also be amended to offer three years of protection from deportation, up from the previous two years.

Obama’s order also shifts additional resources to the border and establishes enforcement priorities designed to “increase the chances that anyone attempting to cross the border illegally will be caught and sent back.”

It also calls for changes to address the backlog of pending immigration court cases.

The order also stresses that deportation actions will focus on people “suspected of terrorism, violent criminals, gang members and recent border crossers,” according to the White House.

“You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. That’s what this deal is,” Obama said.

The president also blasted Republicans who might call his order “amnesty.”

“Well, it’s not,” he said. “Amnesty is the immigration system we have today.”

Obama pressed Congress to pass immigration legislation, but also noted that every president — Republican and Democrat — over the past 50 years has taken similar action. He even quoted his predecessor, Republican President George W. Bush, who said of immigrants, “They are a part of American life.”

“Our history and the facts show that immigrants are a net plus for our economy and our society,” Obama said. “  … We have to remember that this debate is about something bigger. It’s about who we are as a country and who we want to be for future generations.”

Republican leaders in Washington, including House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, have said congressional progress on immigration has stalled due to the GOP belief that Obama will fail to enforce whatever laws are enacted. They have also said his decision to take such an action torpedoed all hope that Congress will pass immigration legislation.

“It is sad and disappointing that — faced with this challenge — President Obama won’t work with us, but is instead intent on going it alone with executive orders that can’t and won’t fix these problems,” Boehner said earlier.

Boehner and other Republicans have vowed to attempt to overturn the president’s order.

“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,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich called the president’s action “a tax-supported welfare program that rewards those who have broken the law.”

“Amnesty is not immigration reform,” he said. “Instead, we need a more streamlined system for legal immigration, a guest worker program, greater border security and enhanced coordination of federal and local law enforcement to relieve the catastrophic economic impact faced by local government.

“While legal immigration has benefitted our county economically and culturally, illegal immigration reduces the quality of life and forces our citizens and legal aliens to pay for the impact on our criminal justice, education and health-care systems,” he said.

Los Angeles Roman Catholic Archbishop Jose Gomez praised the president’s actions for lifting the threat of deportation from families. But he said the action is “no substitute for the comprehensive immigration reform our nation needs.”

“As a nation, all of us — not only our leaders — have a responsibility,” he said. “We cannot turn our heads and continue to look the other way while our brothers and sisters need our help. We all need to work together — citizens, faith communities, government agencies and elected officials.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city “will benefit from the
president’s common-sense immigration reforms, which will strengthen and stabilize families, increase public safety and boost our economy.”

Gov. Jerry Brown, meanwhile, hailed the president’s action.

“Tonight, in the face of Washington gridlock, this president stepped up for hard-working families across America,” Brown said. “This is the right thing to do, and it’s time for Congress to finish the job.”

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said earlier that Republicans in Congress never expressed outrage when President Ronald Reagan legalized 3 million immigrants in 1986 or when President George H.W. Bush halted deportations of more than 1.5 million people.

“I’ll tell you, President Bush’s Family Fairness policy, the executive action he took, was sweeping,” Boxer said. “It affected more than 40 percent of the undocumented population in the United States at the time. He thought big, George Bush Sr., he thought big. And this president should think big.”

 

8:45pm: Updates US Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard call for investigation of sexual abuse of women in detention centers.

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November 21, 2014  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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