Obama offers work permits to undocumented immigrants

Francisco Dominguez

On Nov. 20 a historical announcement was made, one that could potentially impact the lives of 5 million people on American soil.

On that day, President Barack Obama addressed the nation from the White House to announce he had made an executive decision not on terrorism, the economy or, healthcare, but on the issue of immigration. His decision sent shockwaves down both political aisles. Some believe that what he did was unconstitutional and others say that his executive decision doesn’t go far enough. With that being said, what did Obama really do?

According to whitehouse.gov, under Obama’s executive action, undocumented immigrants with children who are citizens or legal residents may apply for a temporary work permit. In order for this to happen, the applicant must have been here for five or more years, pass a background check and pay taxes. In addition, the action would send more recourse to the border to focus on deportation of criminals and not of families.

It is important to note that Obama’s executive action is not amnesty, but because amnesty is an easy accusation to throw around, people will continue to say it. Obama’s action is only temporary and it’s not a law. It would only take another executive action from another president for his action to end.

Many Republicans, on the other hand, state bogus things about Obama’s executive action. For example, according to foxnews.com, Senator Ted Cruz from Texas believes that Obama has no authority to establish immigration laws and that Congress should block the president’s nominees and stop some funding. Here is where Cruz is wrong: Obama did not change or establish any laws. He simply provided undocumented immigrants with temporary relief, which is legal. According to Angie Drobnic Holan’s politifact.com article, “Experts say it would be difficult, if not impossible, for Obama to offer legal status to every undocumented person. The best he could do would be to expand it to a broader group than he already has. If media reports are accurate, Obama’s plan will be exactly that — an expansion for some, but not all.(politifact.com)” Cruz is willing to shut down the government and jeopardize a weakened economy all to gain political popularity, because as far as the law goes Obama is fully within his presidential powers to do what he did.

So, why did Obama act on his own? Many believe, and the president himself has said, that he acted because of the lack of action from Congress. The day Obama addressed the nation he said, “And to those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill (whitehouse.gov).” In other words, if Congress does not want him to act on his own, it needs to act.