Problems and solutions in bipartisan immigration reform: is President Obama over a barrel?

"White House giving Boehner room on immigration - The Washington Post"

“White House giving Boehner room on immigration – The Washington Post”

The recent Associated Press article title, “White House giving Boehner room on immigration”[i] is attracting attention from both sides of the political aisle and some people are speculating about a delay in comprehensive immigration reform until after the November elections. Some activists pushing for immigration reform want President Obama to exercise Presidential powers to slow deportations and take actions to ease the hardship experienced by immigrants and asylum seekers waiting for their chance at a better life in the U.S. There are several problems in politics that get in the way of immigration reform.

The short-term delay to immigration reform is the upcoming midterm election this November.

Short-term problems getting in the way of immigration reform include debate about the Affordable Care Act. The battle to keep, reform or eliminate President Obama’s health care law is a key issue to voters in November. In several state races for congressional positions, healthcare is a top concern in current campaigns. The problem is that fierce immigration debates could distract congress and voters from a focus on healthcare. According to some democratic officials, “There is also a possibility that the House could act in November or December, during a lame duck session of Congress after the elections. That would require swift work in a short time. What’s more, if Republicans win control of the Senate, there would be pressure to leave the issue to the new Senate.[ii]

Even after the elections, lawmakers have very different problems and need fresh ideas to negotiate a bipartisan compromise.

Long-term problems and solutions are a bit more complex. While both Republicans and Democrats want immigration reform, there is a fundamental division and conflict about key components of reform. Congress and the media present Southern border security as a fundamentally important demand of “conservative” voters while “liberal” voters want immigration reform to give options for a path to citizenship; the reality is that many people on both sides of the argument recognize the importance of both of those issues.  The American public simply seeks for their representatives in Congress to actually accomplish some type of comprehensive reform as opposed to only talking about it.

Is President Obama over a barrel?

Recent news articles report that immigration reform advocates believe President Obama could do more despite the stall on immigration reform by Republican lawmakers. One such advocate was recently quoted on the issue, ““The administration has both the legal authority and moral authority to make changes that would reduce the pain and suffering in the community right now,” said Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. Such advocates dismiss Republican claims that President Obama can’t be counted on to enforce the border security components of a new immigration law.[iii]

Waiting longer for comprehensive immigration reform may be unpopular but could be beneficial long-term.

As President of the United States, President Obama has powers granted to him by the U.S. Constitution that allow him to put in place certain Executive Orders.  White House spokespeople, in response to criticism and claims that Obama is not doing enough, stated that the president is following the law, and despite claims he can change immigration laws on his own, he cannot.  President Obama has long stated that he is opposed to the wide use of Executive Orders to advance his political agenda.  President Obama advocates proper use of the legislative process to enact a long-term comprehensive solution.

Why can’t we force immigration reform? To reach a bipartisan agreement, both Democrats and Republicans will need to compromise on key issues including border security and amnesty for undocumented residents seeking immigration relief. Being too strong or unwilling to negotiate compromise could upset the progress that has already been made in the immigration reform debate.

KiKi M. Mosley monitors and shares updates on immigration reform and is always happy to explain answers to important legal questions about immigration reform and better options for people on a path to legal status and citizenship in the U.S. Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues. For more information about the law firm, please tap/click here to visit the rest of the website, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter or Google Plus.


[i] The Washington Post: White House giving Boehner room on immigration, Associate Press, Feb. 7, 2014.

[ii] Direct quote from The Washington Post article above.

[iii] Direct quote from The Washington Post article above.

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