One of the big conservative fears is that Obama is going to do what Ronald Reagan did before him: issue amnesty to illegal immigrants to the country. Despite all the talk about the “Unconstitutional” nature of his impeding executive action and their wild claims that President Obama is orchestrating a power-grab, it should surprise nobody to learn that, like always, the GOP is wrong.
A report from the American Immigration Council breaks down the history of the use of executive orders by presidents on both parties, and demolishes the GOP talking point with a single line: by orchestrating this executive order, President Obama would follow in “a long line of presidents who relied on their executive branch authority to address immigration challenges.”
The highlights of the AIC report notes the executive actions of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush:
“Perhaps the most striking historical parallel to today’s immigration challenges is the ‘Family Fairness’ policy implemented by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Sr. The story behind the fairness policy begins on November 6, 1986, when President Reagan signed the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which gave up to 3 million unauthorized immigrants a path to legalization if they had been ‘continuously’ present in the U.S. since January 1, 1982. But the new law excluded their spouses and children who didn’t qualify and forced them to wait in line, creating ‘split-eligibility’ families, as they were called. The U.S. Catholic bishops and immigration groups criticized President Reagan for separating families.
The report goes on to note that Reagan’s Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) commissioner issued a blanket deferral of deportation for children under 18 who were living in a two-parent household with both parents legalizing, or with a single parent who was legalizing, in 1987. The senate moved in 1989 to protect a much larger group, which prohibited the deportation of spouses and children of those who were legalizing under the IRCA, but the legislation stalled in the House until 1990, when President Bush Sr. administratively implemented the bill’s provisions as they were drafted by the Senate.
That’s right, George Herbert Walker Bush implemented part of a bill by himself, using executive orders. Something tells me that Republicans like Senator Ted Cruz (R-Comcast Cable) are willingly ignorant of this fact.
Meanwhile, Bush I’s INS commissioner expanded the blanket deferral to as many as 1.5 million spouses and children of legalizing immigrants. Thus, Bush I protected over 40% of the then-unauthorized population from deportation. The House would pass that legislation, and President Bush would later sign it.
Bush II had his hand in it as well; in 2007, he provided relief in the form of the Deferred Enforced Departure, which saved something like 3,600 Liberians from deportation. He also suspended the employer verification rules, in addition to a number of other gestures with his “pen and phone” that helped an unknown number of illegal immigrants.
The Center for American Progress added addition context, and noted that every president since Dwight Eisenhower — from Ike to Obama — has used executive orders on the issue of immigration. Specifically, it’s happened on 39 different occasions over the last 60 years — that’s little over one every two years, beginning with the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1952:
“Since Congress first passed a comprehensive immigration law—the Immigration and Nationality Act—in 1952, each of the 11 subsequent presidents, from President Dwight D. Eisenhower through President Barack Obama, have used their broad executive authority to address unanticipated situations affecting foreign nationals at home and abroad. These executive actions have filled gaps in legislation by permitting certain individuals to temporarily enter or remain in the United States when it serves the nation’s interests. They have protected people from specific countries—such as Hungarians and Cubans fleeing communism, Iranians fleeing revolution, Chinese nationals after the Tiananmen Square massacre, as well as Salvadorans, Hondurans, Guatemalans, and Nicaraguans after a hurricane. These executive actions have also addressed individuals who share attributes or possess common equities such as spouses and children of immigrants who received legal status under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and, more recently, DREAMers through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program…
While the the Center notes that only congress can fix our broken immigration system by passing reform, President Obama will be continuing a 60-year-old bipartisan tradition if/when he uses president authority to help with the immigration system.
So, given this, if what Obama is doing is impeachment worthy, then why haven’t these dyed-in-the-wool patriots been rushing to impeach every single president since Ike?
If your answer was “because none of those other presidents were black” congratulations, you win a cookie.
h/t America’s Voice