Online Staff Report
President Barack Obama (D) announced his immigration reform plan Thursday, Nov. 20, in an address from the White House. The plan, which will be enacted by executive action, is drawing sharp criticism from opponents.
The Illinois GOP Congressional delegation of U.S. Reps. Adam Kinzinger, Peter Roskam, Rodney Davis, Randy Hultgren, John Shimkus and Aaron Schock issued the following statement in response to Obama’s immigration plan: “President Obama’s plan to ignore the Constitution and circumvent Congress is a lawless move that will ultimately do much more harm than good. We believe Congress should take the lead on immigration reform, securing our borders, improving the visa system and addressing the many layers of our broken system. This temporary measure will only spark chaos and create major problems both now and in the future. In fact, President Obama himself has said many times that an executive action of this magnitude would be unlawful. By blatantly bypassing Congress to execute this illegal executive order, the president is neglecting the interest of the American people, diminishing our national security, undermining the rule of law, and setting back efforts to permanently and meaningfully fix what’s broken in the immigration system.”
In a press release, the White House said Obama’s executive action “will help secure the border, hold nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants accountable, and ensure that everyone plays by the same rules.”
Obama is expected to sign the executive actions at a rally in Las Vegas Nov. 21.
“Our immigration system is broken, and everybody knows it,” Obama said.
Obama later said his critics will likely call the plan a form of amnesty.
“Well, it’s not,” Obama asserted. “Amnesty is the immigration system we have today — millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules, while politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time.
“That’s the real amnesty — leaving this broken system the way it is,” he said. “Mass amnesty would be unfair. Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character. What I’m describing is accountability — a commonsense, middle ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.”
The president’s plan features three key elements: cracking down on illegal immigration at the border; deporting felons, but not families; and establishing criminal background checks and taxes for undocumented immigrants.
“By registering and passing criminal and national security background checks, millions of undocumented immigrants will start paying their fair share of taxes and temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation for three years at a time,” the White House press release said.
If undocumented immigrants submit to these background checks, register with the government, pay fees and show they have a child born in the U.S., then they “will have the opportunity to request temporary relief from deportation and work authorization for three years at a time.”
Obama suggested the reforms will make it more difficult to enter the country without documentation. However, Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Obama’s “decision tonight will lead to more illegal immigration, not less.”
U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Illinois, said in a statement in response to Obama’s immigration plan: “I have long shared the view of most Americans that our immigration system is broken and in need of comprehensive reform that includes securing the border and cracking down on employers who undermine American workers by knowingly hiring undocumented workers. More recently, I’ve been frustrated and disappointed that due to the obstructionism of some, Congress has not been able to come together in a bipartisan manner to address this growing problem. These same lawmakers have now recklessly put another politically induced government shutdown, which would hurt our region’s economy and workers, on the table — a move I find unacceptable.
“While I hope that today’s action by the president will spur further needed reform, I believe firmly that Congress needs to lead on this important issue,” Bustos added. “I continue to urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to fix our broken immigration system by setting politics aside and doing what is in the best interest of our country.”
The Illinois Business Immigration Coalition (IBIC) released the following statement in response to Obama’s announcement:
“The Illinois Business Immigration Coalition (IBIC) represents a growing and diverse set of businesses and business associations across the state. IBIC provides a voice for Illinois businesses in support of common sense immigration reform that supports Illinois’ economic recovery, provides Illinois companies with both the high-skilled and low-skilled talent they need, and promotes the integration of immigrants into our economy as consumers, workers, entrepreneurs and citizens.
“Although we believe that legislative action is the best way to develop common sense, and permanent solutions to our large and complex immigration problems, executive action by the president is a welcomed relief to millions of families living in fear, businesses disrupted due to unnecessary deportations, and a national security compromised because we currently do not know who is in our country and for what purpose.
“IBIC remains committed to encouraging Congress to take up and pass immigration legislation that secures the border and enacts a tough screening process so we know who is in the country and for what purpose, creates a functioning visa system allowing safe, orderly, and legal immigration for the needed agricultural, high skilled and low skilled workers, and a legal status or path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already here.
“It is bad for the economy to have millions of people working in the shadows,” the IBIC statement continued. “It is bad for national security when we do not know who is in the country and for what purpose. It is bad for the country when families are kept apart. The President’s Executive Order may help to bring millions of workers out of the shadow, legally entering them into the workforce, and strengthen our national security, but absent legislation, our country’s immigration system remains broken,” the IBIC statement concluded.
IBIC’s co-chairmen are Exelon Chairman Emeritus John Rowe, Crate and Barrel Co-Founder Carole Segal, former Corn Products International CEO Sam Scott, former Illinois Chamber of Commerce CEO Doug Whitley, Resurrection Project CEO Raul Raymundo, American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois Executive Director Dave Bender and National Partnership for New Americans Executive Director Joshua Hoyt.
Posted Nov. 21, 2014