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Home Sections Politics President Obama Urged to Use His Executive Power to Reform Immigration
President Obama Urged to Use His Executive Power to Reform Immigration PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Politics
Monday, 04 July 2011 09:47

 

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2011 Journal Group Link International)

  

C HICAGO (jGLi) – From “Yes, We Can” to “Yes, You Can.”

 

This evolving slogan resonated at the Unity Rally Thursday (June 30) at Chicago, Illinois’ near southwest side, as immigrant advocates had grown frustrated over the failure of the U.S. Congress to pass the DREAM Act.

 

The glacial pace of the passage of the legislation prompted Jose Antonio Vargas, the Filipino Pulitzer Prize winner, to out himself last week as an undocumented immigrant to spark a national debate on the bill.

 

In an interview, Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez (Dem.-IL-4th) told this reporter that Mr. Vargas is “very courageous, brave, and his story is compelling. I thank him for coming forward. He showed that in America, wherever you look, there could be a likelihood that you care for someone or worked with illegal immigrants, who are not criminals but Pulitzer Prize winners. I’m thankful for him and we owe him a great deal of gratitude.”

 

If you do the math, the members of the House of Representatives, who overwhelmingly passed the DREAM Act last December are no longer there.


The proposed legislation, S. 952, would grant conditional permanent resident status to children of illegal aliens who came to the United States under 15 years old, had been in the U.S. during the last five years, have not committed an offense under Federal or State Law punishable by maximum of more than one year or three offenses on different dates and imprisonment of 90 days or more and completed high school education or GED or joined the military for two years and honorably discharged.

 

Douglas G. Rivlin, press secretary of Congressman Gutierrez (Dem.-IL-4th), told this reporter in an interview that out of the 208 Democrats in the House who voted for the DREAM Act last December, only 198 remain. Sixteen of these voted against, leaving a deficit of 36. Out of the eight Republicans, who favored the bill, only four remain. It needs 218 votes to get a simple majority for a legislation to pass in the House.

 

In the Senate, out of 58 Democrats, who voted last December, 52 remain but five of these were against the DREAM Act. Supermajority votes of 60 are needed to pass a bill in the Senate without debate.

 

DREAM ACT ALL A DREAM

 

In essence, the DREAM Act that was re-introduced in the U.S. Senate by Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (Dem.-IL) last May 11 with 34 co-sponsors is dead in the water this year in both chambers.

 

Mr. Gutierrez presented two families during the rally, whose members were deported. Because he was able to make a case to the Department of Homeland Security that these families be re-united, the DHS used its discretion to let the family members return to the United States without waiting for 10 years.

 

It was the culmination of Gutierrez’ 23-city tour, appealing to President Obama to “stop deporting DREAM students; stop separation of families; and reform Secure Communities" procedures.

 

“If the U.S. government allowed these two families to be reunited, President Barack Obama can do these to the millions similarly situated.” Gutierrez said.

He said the President has an “immense and broad power” to issue an executive order. He said 22 senators, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Durbin and Sen. Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, had written President Obama, a letter, telling him that he can stop deportation of “dreamers,” by using his "prosecutorial discretion and granting them deferred action with work permits until U.S. Congress settles the immigration issue."

 

COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM BILL UP

 

O nly last June 22, Senator Leahy joined Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Reid, Durbin, Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in reintroducing a comprehensive immigration reform bill aimed at addressing the broken immigration system with “tough, smart, and fair measures” that will strengthen border security, enhance worksite enforcement of immigration laws, and requires that the estimated 11-million undocumented immigrants present in the U.S. register with the government, pay their taxes, learn English, pay a fine, pass a background check, and wait in line for permanent residence.

 

But Gutierrez disclosed that Rep. Lamar Smith (Rep.-TX-21st), House Judiciary Committee chair, is introducing a “legislation that would take away executive prerogative from President Obama on matters of immigration legislation while President Obama is in office. (It) is the same (bromide) that he (President Obama) can’t be President, can’t be trusted, not a Christian and not qualified.”

 

The Unity Rally attended by hundreds was spearheaded by Chicago Alderman Danny Solis and was attended by several officials, including Chicago State Senator Tony Munoz, Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios, County Commissioner John Garcia and former Chicago School Board chief Gery Chico, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (http://icirr.org), Dr. Juanita Salvador-Burris Board President of Alliance of Filipino for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment (AFIRE) and Dr. Theresa Mah, Ph.D., Policy Consultant of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community (CBCAC). Participants also signed petition, urging President Obama to support the DREAM Act and other immigration reforms.

 

OTHER GROUPS URGE PRESIDENT OBAMA TO SIGN EXECUTIVE ORDER

 

A lso over the weekend, Immigrant organizations in Washington, DC, Virginia, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts asked President Obama to use his executive powers to halt deportations and put all desirable immigrants in the path of US residency and citizenship.

 

A petition resolution signed by about 100 immigrant leaders holding the first International Migrants Rights Summit led by the Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC) said that the president has the legal authority to use his executive powers while Congress still has to thoroughly discuss and pass the immigration law.

 

"We are alarmed by the intensifying cases of deportations and removals of students, children, mothers, and fathers who do not have criminal convictions.  They must be stopped by the president until Congress passes the Comprehensive Immigration Law," MHC co-executive director Arnedo Valera, an immigration lawyer, said.

 

For many immigrant groups, there are no signs that Congress will at all pass an immigration law.

 

The US is the world’s largest home to immigrants, accounting for 30% of the entire immigrant population worldwide. The top 12 emigrant countries in 2006 are Mexico, China, Philippines, India, Cuba, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Vietnam, Jamaica, South Korea, and Guatemala.

 

If President Obama approves this executive order, it will be similar to such sweeping “amnesty” immigration reforms as the Immigration and Reform Control Act of 1986 signed by President Reagan that benefited 2.7 million aliens, and extensions of this law in 1994, 1997, 2000, the NACARA (Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act) and the HRIFA (Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act that extended immigration status to hundreds of thousands. # # #

 

Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at: (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)



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