The executive action announced yesterday by President Barack Obama includes a promise to stop, at least momentarily, the deportation of millions of undocumented people living in the U.S.
This is a positive, although incomplete measure.
This action is a temporary fix for a situation that requires broader and more permanent changes which can only be achieved through the legal process – with a comprehensive immigration reform. Otherwise, the measure will either expire or have to be extended every two years by whoever sits at the White House.
For this reason, the action’s reach is limited, and leaves behind millions of people who could have been benefited.
But at least millions of families won’t have to fear deportation for a while, and they won’t be separated.
It’s Congress who has authority to develop a necessary comprehensive immigration reform. However, the current legislative gridlock, especially in the House of Representatives, left the President with no other choice than to act alone.
Republicans have now two options: invest all of their energies in repeatedly confront Obama and his executive action in different fronts, or work to achieve comprehensive immigration reform. Instead of complaining about Democrats posturing to court Latino votes, Republicans have a unique opportunity to compete for the same electorate with a reform.
It will all depend whether they let Congressman Steve King and the like keep driving the House’s agenda on the subject, or they let the moderates control the debate.
Polls say that most Americans favor a reform which includes a legalization of undocumented people. A far less overwhelming majority is opposed to the measure being achieved through executive action. They support the goal but question the means.
The executive action is positive and crucial, it responds to an urgent need. This is where presidential powers meet their limits. The necessary reform to update the complex migratory legal framework demands much more. And it remains in the Congress’ hands