President Barack Obama has begun the push for legislative change using his executive powers that would pave the way for a dramatic shift in American policy on some elements of immigration.
Speaking on Friday at a news conference during a visit to Myanmar, Mr Obama clarified his position on the issue, saying that he had already given the House of Representative more than a year to come up with a suitable immigration bill, something they had failed to do.
“There has been ample opportunity for Congress to pass a bipartisan immigration bill that would strengthen our borders, improve the legal immigration system and lift millions of people out of the shadows,” he said.
“I said that if in fact Congress failed to act, I would use all the lawful authority I possess to try to make the system work better…and that’s going to happen before the end of the year.”
The key issue that Mr Obama intends to improve legislation on is the expansion of the current suspension of deportation to more children of illegal immigrations who were born in the U.S.A, as well as to the parents of those who are legal US residents.
However, this move by the President has sparked a furore in the opposition Republican party, resulting in a split between party members as they struggle to decide on the best way to attempt to block President Obama’s moves, despite the President stating that as soon as Congress passed a bill that he could sign, “any executive actions will be replaced”.
“We’re going to fight the president tooth and nail if he continues down this path,” House Speaker John Boehner told reporters. Futhermore, the Republican Mitch McConnell, who is the incoming Senate majority leader after the recent Midterm elections, said that there was a need for the President to “work with us to try to find a way to improve our immigration system”.
Many Republicans see this attempt as an unconstitutional overreach by the President, and some have urged cutting funding for White House operations across the board. If this were to occur, then such a political tactic could provoke either a block by Democrats or a veto by the President, which would raise the likelihood of a government shutdown entirely, much like the one that occurred last year and that damaged the reputation of the Republican Party.
However, challenging the President to such an extent to cause another government shutdown would only further threaten the standing that Republicans have with the Latino population, which is the largest growing voting demographic in the U.S.A and the demographic that President Obama could secure support from with this change in legislation.
The other option being considered by key Republican figures are short-term funding measures which would simply block Mr Obama’s ability to actually implement any of the changes with regards to immigration policy instead of blocking government funding entirely.
Whichever option is considered, it is now becoming clearer that in the final two years that President Obama is in power, the Republican majority in Congress will not halt his plans for the “change” he had promised voters in his 2008 election campaign.
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