The path to immigration reform is usually through the legislature. However, in this case, it is up to the White House to act, since the House of Representatives refuses to work with the Senate on a bipartisan bill–despite strong calls from the business and religious sectors, and popular support for some sort of regularization for the undocumented.
Now it is up to President Obama to take action. Leadership is needed to implement measures that will be exploited in the elections by those who have done no more than obstruct. There will also be false accusations of an imperial presidency that governs through executive actions in order to dodge Congress.
Nevertheless, now Congress itself is the one forcing Obama to take measures to expand Deferred Action and help the parents of the Dreamers and undocumented immigrants who for years have done honest work and fulfilled all their obligations. Likewise, local police departments must stop immigration enforcement activities, which have led to abuse and unnecessary deportations.
It’s time for action. It’s time to do the right thing. The majority of Americans think that it is necessary to overhaul immigration laws in a way that recognizes the complexity of this issue, and not just deport people according to the House of Representatives’ immigration agenda.
The most recent Fox News poll revealed that 65% of voters prefer a path to citizenship instead of doing nothing. That percentage of voters is three times larger than those who support Congress’ policy of “doing nothing” with the undocumented who are in the country now.
During his 2008 presidential campaign, President Obama made a pledge to Latinos on immigration. Today, there is a national pledge to provide at least minimum stability to millions of working families. This is not because a promise was made, like the one made to Hispanics; it is because this reflects the feelings of the great majority of Americans, who demand positive actions that are not limited to deporting people.
This is a key moment to demonstrate presidential leadership, knowing that in the short term, there may be a political price to pay. However, showing courage by doing the right thing will, in addition to benefiting the nation, yield political rewards in the long and medium term, both for the Democrats and for President Obama’s legacy