Last night, President Obama did what he had promised to do: take action to stop unfair and inhumane deportations, while shoring up our borders and taking people out of the shadows of an underground economy. The president had been waiting for the House of Representatives to act on immigration—which it has refused to do, not even allowing a vote on the Senate's bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill.
Obama's executive actions—and eloquent and emotional remarks to the nation—set out a path to expand needed protections to millions of undocumented immigrants and, most important of all, keep families together. By doing so, he also is fighting the wage suppression experienced by many operating in an underground economy.
We're still digging into the details of the executive action, but it looks promising. We'll be analyzing it in the coming days to see the impact it will have on all the different groups we represent. But one thing is clear: Millions of children who were born in this country can now go home after school without the fear that their parents won't be there.
It's important to recognize two things: One, U.S. presidents promulgate executive actions all the time. President Reagan and both President Bushes signed executive orders on immigration. Two, President Obama took this action because Congress, and especially the Republican-controlled House, failed to act on comprehensive immigration reform. Ironically, the first action Speaker Boehner has taken on immigration is to sue to stop President Obama's action.
Here's my complete statement about the president's order:
"As a union, we've always been committed to opening the doors of opportunity for all children, and immigration is an issue that touches every community we serve," she says. "After the House of Representatives refused to act on comprehensive immigration reform, although the Senate had passed bipartisan legislation, President Obama—as he did with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and as many of his predecessors have done—is using his legal authority to secure our nation's borders, to help keep families together and to expand our economy.
"A great and diverse nation, founded by immigrants seeking a safer, more prosperous life, continues to deliver the promise of the American dream. Yet our broken immigration system has hurt millions of students and families. We continue to hear heartbreaking stories of kids who don't know if their parents are coming home or have been deported. We hear from teachers whose students stop showing up for school after their parents are sent to a country these children have never called home. Our nation's children are counting on us. We must unite, not divide, families. The president's plan will give many of these families the security of knowing they can stay together, and it will bring many workers out of the shadow economy, ensuring higher wages for all. We remain eager for Congress—especially the Republican-controlled House—to take legislative action and show unity on an issue so personal to American families."