In social studies, we were assigned the task of researching a certain controversial topic. I decided to research Obama’s executive order and eventually, after the note taking process, I wrote a position paper and I thought it would interesting if I posted it to my blog!
I hope you find this informative and interesting!
Since the Immigration and Reform Act of 1986 was passed, immigration has become an even larger issue, with the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States rising from 3.5 million in 1990 to 11.3 million in 2015 (Ehrenfreund 1). There is much discussion and little agreement about how to approach this complex problem. The most recent attempt at immigration reform was a bill that the Senate passed with bipartisan support two years ago (2013). The Republican controlled House, however, never considered the bill, which Obama says is part of the justification for acting unilaterally through his immigration executive order. The executive order is a unique instrument that has been used by many Presidents. Throughout history, Republican and Democratic Presidents have acted unilaterally and issued executive orders. In fact, a Republican president, Ronald Reagan, issued an executive order that has been described by the columnist Mark Noferi of the pro-immigration American Immigration Council as a“striking parallel” to Obama’s order on immigration (Noferi 1). In 1986, Congress and Reagan “enacted an immigration overhaul” that granted amnesty to 3 million immigrants with authorization to be in the U.S. (Taylor 1). Unfortunately, Congress failed to amend the law to include children. To correct this issue, in 1987, Reagan's Immigration and Naturalization Service commissioner announced that minor children of parents who had been granted amnesty by the law would also get protection from deportation through an executive order issued by President Reagan (Taylor 1). President George H.W. Bush also used his executive order power to reform immigration. He made a “family fairness” policy that put into place a Senate measure that had never been passed. Mark Noferi wrote, "Bush Sr. went big at the time. He protected about 40 percent of the unauthorized population. Back then that was up to 1.5 million. Today that would be about 5 million (Taylor 2)." Based on the fact that in our history there has been constant dialogue and disagreement about immigration solutions and based on the fact that Presidents have used their executive order power to try to deal with this growing problem, it is clear that there is no one easy solution to such a complicated issue.
Opponents argue that Obama’s executive order on immigration is not only unconstitutional, but will also have detrimental effects on the U.S. economy. They argue that it is unconstitutional because the President's job is to enforce Federal Law, not write it. They believe that in issuing this order, Obama is overstepping the boundaries of his executive powers. Additionally, many believe that immigrants are burdens to the country because they take jobs, housing, and health care, which are some of the most costly benefits of living in the United States. Twenty-six states have sued in objection to Obama’s order because the order would require the states to find additional funding to pay for these new legal immigrants. Another argument is that when the undocumented immigrants entered the United States illegally, they were directly expressing that they show no concern for following the laws of our nation and there is no reason for believing that the four million immigrants who will be granted amnesty will pay their taxes and live responsibly in the United States of America. Also, 28 percent of the immigrant population in the United States has not completed high school (Camarota 1). To some, this low education percentage is an indication that immigrants will not be able to earn enough money or pay enough taxes to pay for the many benefits that the government would provide. This assumption is cause for concern that the government will be forced to tax the middle and upper classes more to make up for the debt caused by the immigrants. To summarize, those who oppose Obama’s immigration executive order predict dramatic consequences, should this order be implemented.
One of the core arguments is whether Obama’s executive order is constitutional. There is both evidence and precedent proving that it is. Typically in history, when discussing the constitutionality of executive orders, the courts have proven to be on the side of the Executive Branch. In the Supreme Court case of 1974, United States v. Nixon, the court found that, “The Executive Branch has exclusive authority and absolute discretion to decide whether to prosecute a case (Kleiner and Chemerinsky 1).” In other words, the President has the power to decide which laws not to enforce based on how he or she wants to use resources and on his or hers view of the best public policy (Kleiner and Chemerinsky 1). Recently, in 2013, Federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh ruled on the broad discretion of presidential prosecution, “The President may decline to prosecute or may pardon because of the president's own constitutional concerns about a law or because of policy objections to the law, among other reasons (Kleiner and Chemerinsky 2).” In Obama’s scenario, using an executive order for prosecutorial discretion is appropriate, due to the fact that because how foreign citizens are treated is part of our nation’s foreign affairs policy and foreign affairs are under the President's executive control. Meaning, in this case, the President is allowed to not enforce immigration laws which call for deportation because he has objections to the U.S. deportation policy.
President Obama’s executive order on immigration is beneficial for the United States economy. The President has created an order that prioritizes the deportation of individuals that pose a threat to national security and public safety, while granting amnesty to four million hard-working, undocumented parents of U.S. citizens as well as permanent residents who have lived in the US for more than five years. Not only are these four million undocumented immigrants hard-working, they contribute to our everyday society by working labor intensive jobs that are the backbone of our economy. Still, however, these undocumented immigrants do not pay their taxes, which is why, if these immigrants were here legally, they would pay their dues to the government and provide a boost to the economy. In fact, according to an analysis by the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), “the President’s executive actions on immigration would boost economic output by an estimated 0.4 to 0.9 percent over ten years, corresponding to increases in GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of $90 billion to $210 billion in 2024 [White House (immigration) economic section].” Initially, there are 11.3 million undocumented immigrants who are forced to live in the shadows of the United States and, due to the fear of being deported, are required to disobey the law. Most of these people are hard-working, undocumented immigrants who contribute to society and are actually more of a drain on society as undocumented immigrants than they would be if they were granted legal status. While these four million immigrants did break the law when they entered the country, they came to this country looking for economic opportunities to provide for their families, which were not available in their home countries. Instead of classifying these people as “illegals,”claiming they will never follow the law, the U.S. should consider the act of love and commitment these immigrants made for their families and take that as an indication that they want to do what is not only best for themselves, but what is legal and right. The former governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, a Republican, said in an interview, “I honestly think that immigration is a different kind of crime, that there should be a price paid, but it shouldn’t rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families, I think we need to kind of get beyond the harsh political rhetoric to a better place (O'Keefe 1).” Quotes such as these illustrate that President Obama’s act is a step in the right direction.
Obama’s order will successfully help four million undocumented immigrants have the opportunity to live and and work freely, without the fear of being deported. The benefits that certain undocumented immigrants provide for our country are undeniable, and in a few years time, the significance of this executive order will become apparent in the way it boosts economic outcome. This order has followed a precedent set by other Presidents, thereby displaying to immigrants that we, as a country, welcome them, as long as they abide by the democratic system that our country follows. The borders that surround our country are all only going to grow stronger, as a result of this order, and the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. will fall, while the number of new citizens will rise. Obama’s executive order was a thoughtful and courageous act that has set our country in a positive direction towards the future.