Obama Immigration Reform Stumbles into Federal Court

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced a plan to block President Barack Obama’s immigration reforms this week. Phot courtesy of REUTERS/Jim Young.

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]enate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced a plan to block President Barack Obama’s immigration reforms this week.

“This targeted measure would address the president’s most recent overreach from November. The bill isn’t tied to [Department of Homeland Security] funding. There’s no excuse for our friends on the other side to oppose it,” said McConnell in a statement Tuesday. “That’s especially true of the Democrats who led their constituents to believe they’d stand up for democratic principles in this debate.”

Currently, the president’s immigration reforms are tied to a bill that funds the DHS. Because of this, Congress has been stalled in passing it and at press time this delay means the federal agency may shut down on Friday. If Republicans can successfully vote on a DHS funding bill without the immigration reforms attached to it, then the DHS shutdown could be avoided.

“Some in Congress would choose not to fund @DHSgov rather than fix our broken immigration system,” the president tweeted out on Tuesday.

Last year, an immigration reform bill was initially passed in the Senate but became stalled in the Republican-controlled House. And when Republicans took control of Congress during last year’s Nov. 4 midterm elections, Obama used an executive action to push immigration reform forward later in the month.

Obama’s action would not grant citizenship to undocumented immigrants. Instead, it would prioritize border enforcement to focus on criminals and deporting undocumented immigrants who’ve recently crossed the border. It would also require undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have been in the country for five or more years to pass a background check and pay taxes to stay in the U.S. Additionally, it would streamline and expand work authorization for high-skilled workers currently in line for a green card.

Yet McConnell’s move to separate immigration reforms from DHS funding isn’t the only roadblock to the president’s reforms.

Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court in Brownsville, Texas, issued a preliminary injunction on Monday, two days before the application process for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was set to start. DACA allows undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to stay in the country and work legally.

The federal judge did not rule Obama’s actions were illegal, but it prevents the administration from implementing them until the court rules on their constitutionality. Last week, the Obama administration said it plans to appeal the judge’s ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans.

“I am confident that all the steps I’ve taken on my own to fix our broken immigration system will eventually be implemented,” Obama said in an op-ed published in The Hill. “But I also continue to believe that these steps are no substitute for congressional action.”

On Wednesday, the president traveled to Florida International University in Miami to participate in an immigration town hall hosted by Telemundo and MSNBC.

Facebook Comments

This post is also available in: Spanish