By Grace Lee, CAA Policy Director
President Obama recently made an important announcement that was long overdue. After the Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, confirmed there would be no vote on immigration reform this year, Obama declared he would finally use his executive authority to take action on immigration.
The announcement came more than a year after the U.S. Senate sent a comprehensive immigration reform bill to the House. This ended a year of wasted opportunities by House Republicans who refused to call a vote.
President Obama must and should use the full extent of the law to do what is morally responsible on immigration. Whether it is Congress or the President taking action, all families should be able to stay together by ending unnecessary deportations and clearing visa backlogs, worker and civil rights must be protected as envisioned by the Constitution, and no immigrants should be forced to live in the shadows where they are exploited and demeaned.
Our country has also begun debating how to address the humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied immigrant children and women who are being apprehended. These children, many from Central America, are fleeing dire circumstances that include gang violence, drug wars, and extreme poverty.
Reform legislation has been needed because our immigration system does not handle these types of crises well. Right now, the priority must be the safety and well-being of innocent and vulnerable children who are at risk. These children deserve compassion and not more politics–we cannot deport our way out of this crisis.
The need for broad and sustainable immigration policy that is fair, compassionate, and humane has not changed, and the President now has an opportunity to provide much needed leadership on this issue after House Republicans have so miserably failed. He must seize that opportunity on behalf of all in this country who believe in the basic dignity and respect of all human beings.