Southland immigrant-rights groups on Wednesday were anxiously awaiting specifics of President Barack Obama’s plans to take executive action on immigration, which is likely to protect millions of people living in the country illegally from deportation.
Obama is scheduled to deliver a nationwide address on the topic at 5 p.m. Thursday, then rally support for his proposal at a Friday morning event in Las Vegas.
Members of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles will be holding a watch party for both events at the group’s office. After the president’s Thursday address, a group of activists will board a bus bound for Las Vegas so they can attend his event in person. They also plan to rally at Los Angeles City Hall following the president’s Friday event.
The White House has not released any specifics of the executive order. In a video posted on the White House Facebook page, saying he is taking action because Congress “has allowed the problem to fester for far too long.”
“And so what I’m going to be laying out is the things that I can do with my lawful authority as president to make the system work better, even as I continue to work with Congress to encourage them to get a bipartisan, comprehensive bill that can solve the entire problem,” he said.
The president’s action is likely to protect from deportation the parents of children who are U.S. citizens, affecting as many as 4 million immigrants – – provided they do not have criminal records.
Media reports out of Washington indicated that other portions of the president’s action will protect another 1 million immigrants from deportation.
“We have worked hard, paid taxes and have unfairly suffered the scourge of deportations and family separation,” said Carlos Vaquerano, executive director of the Salvadoran American Leadership and Education Fund in Los Angeles. “Millions of us have started families in this great nation that we love and now call home. We are the parents of U.S. citizens and we deserve the right to live normal lives.”
Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar said the fear of deportation has been “an unconscionable burden” for millions of immigrants.
“As immigrants, my family and I were fortunate to receive U.S. residency after the birth of my brother here in the U.S. under a policy that no longer exists, otherwise we might’ve been torn apart as a family,” Huizar said. “… Separating families goes against everything this great country stands for. While comprehensive immigration reform is the ultimate goal, the president’s anticipated actions will help keep families together.”
Republican leaders in Washington, including House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, has said congressional progress on immigration has stalled due to the GOP belief that Obama will fail to enforce whatever laws are enacted.
“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.
Boehner and other Republicans have vowed to attempt to overturn whatever action the president takes.
“If ‘Emperor Obama’ ignores the American people and announce 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.
Sen Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., noted, however, that Republican in Congress never expressed such 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’ 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.”
— City News Service