On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced his executive order extending prosecutorial discretion in specific ways to lessen the tragedy of the broken US immigration system. (CIS Info -provisions) He eloquently explained his rationale and need to act. While this action does not fix the system, nor does it give any permanent benefits to anyone, it will have a tremendous humanitarian impact on thousands of families living in the United States, permitting honest work and travel pending a general fix of our laws. Whether this fix will take place in the next couple years, or thereafter, is a question impossible to answer in light of the anger, fear, misinformation, and outright deceit which accompanies much of the current immigration debate in the US.
Of course, Congress can act with legislation and fix the system, but there is no indication that will be possible for years, and by acting, the President has possibly made legislation more likely, since the glaring, sputtering, incoherent inaction of Congress is now illuminated by the simple humanitarian action of the President. Our economy will benefit more robustly from previously hidden work of our immigrant population, and families will be strengthened in ways that were previously impossible. Hopefully the Congress now has a real incentive to act, and will do so.
The immediate benefits will be to ALL undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US before the age of 16, and the parents of US citizens and legal permanent residents. And however temporary, the simple ability of these people to emerge from the dark hidden lives they were leading in this country, should make us more proud of our country, and provide the basis for real understanding and a USA again a leader in human rights, and not a twisted inept giant gnawing on its own arms and legs in self-destructive anger and frustration.
The most famous Executive Order . . . the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln . . . affected many more people than this one, as did another signifcant executive action, President Harry Truman's decision to integrate the Armed Forces of the United States. Utlimately Congress ratified and extended the common sense wisdom of both these precedent presidents, recognizing the essential fairness, necessity and justice of the executive action. We should expect no less from the US Congress, regardless of which Party holds momentary sway.