There was a notable buzz among Miami immigration lawyers this week. President Barack Obama revealed Saturday that the surge of immigrant children entering the U.S. illegally changed the politics surrounding the issue of immigration, and led him to delay a pledge to use executive action that could shield millions of people from deportation.
Immigration reform advocates criticized Obama after White House officials said that the president would not act at summer’s end as he promised in June but would take up the matter after the midterm elections in November. In an interview taped for NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Obama rejected the charge that the delay was meant to protect Democratic candidates worried that his actions would hurt their prospects in tough Senate races. In his remarks to NBC, which were to be aired on Sunday, he said a partisan fight in July over how to address an influx of unaccompanied minors at the border had created the impression that there was an immigration crisis and thus a volatile climate for taking the measures he had promised to take.
President Obama remarked that he wanted to spend some time, even as he was getting prepared for the executive action, to make sure that the public understands why he is doing this, why it is the right thing for the American people, and why it is the right thing for the American economy. Partisan fighting erupted recently over how to address the increased flow of unaccompanied minors from Central America at the U.S. border with Mexico. The officials said the White House had not envisioned such a battle when Obama made his pledge in June.
Since then, the number of minors caught alone illegally crossing the Mexican border into the United States has been declining. That decrease and Congress’ absence from Washington during August has taken attention away from the border for now. It is President Obama’s position that the deferment of executive action on immigration reform will allow for more time for the White House to educate the public on the effective handling of the influx of unaccompanied minors to the borders – many of them Central American children.
Obama went to the White House Rose Garden on June 30 to angrily declare that House Speaker John Boehner had informed him that the Republican-controlled House would not be taking up any measures to overhaul the immigration system. As a result, he said, he had directed Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder to give him recommendations for executive action by the end of summer. Obama also pledged to “adopt those recommendations without further delay.”
Obama advisers were not convinced that any presidential action would affect the elections. But the officials said the discussions around timing grew more pronounced within the past few weeks. Ultimately, the advisers drew a lesson from 1994 when Democratic losses were blamed on votes for gun-control legislation, undermining any interest in passing future gun measures. White House officials said aides realized that if Obama’s immigration action was deemed responsible for Democratic losses this year, it could hurt any attempt to pass a broad overhaul later on.
Still, the dispute over how to deal with the surge of Central American border crossers threatened to spill over into the larger debate over immigration and the fate of 11 million immigrants in the United States who either entered illegally or overstayed their visas and have been in the U.S. for some time. The Democratic-led Senate last year passed a broad overhaul of immigration that boosted border security, increased visas for legal immigrants and a provided a path to citizenship for immigrants illegally in the country. But the Republican-controlled House balked at acting on any broad measure.
During a news conference Friday in Wales, Obama reiterated his determination to act on his own even as he avoided making a commitment on timing. He also spelled out ambitious objectives for his executive actions. Obama said that without legislation from Congress, he would take steps to increase border security, upgrade the processing of border crossers and encourage legal immigration -a change that most Miami immigration lawyers welcome. He also said he would offer immigrants who have been illegally in the United States for some time a way to become legal residents, pay taxes, pay a fine and learn English.
For more information about immigration reform, please contact Miami immigration lawyer Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305)895-2500 or visit our website at www. mmurraylaw.com