After arguing with congressional Republicans about immigration for six years, often in a furious way, President Obama said he was going to go it alone and stop up to 5 million people from being deported for now.
Obama told the country in a prime-time speech on Thursday that he would put off deporting the parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents who have U.S. citizen or legal resident children. He also said that more “DREAMers,” or children who came to the U.S. illegally with their parents, would get the same protection. After passing a background check and paying a fee, these two groups will also be able to legally work in the U.S.
Obama said that the executive action was not amnestied because it did not give people a way to become legal.
In response to Republican critics, he said that every president in the past 50 years has done similar things. He also said that his actions were legal.
Obama said, “I have one answer for those members of Congress who say I don’t have the power to make our immigration system work better or who say it’s not smart for me to act where Congress has failed: Pass a bill.” “I want to work with both parties to get a law passed that will solve the problem for good. And when I sign that bill into law, I won’t have to do the things I do now.”
Even before Obama gave his speech, Republicans in Congress warned that this would make it impossible to pass any kind of comprehensive immigration law. Tom Coburn, a senator from Oklahoma, took it a step further by saying that there would be a political and social firestorm.
In an interview with USA Today, Coburn said, “The country is going to go crazy. People are going to see it as a move outside of the president’s power, and it’s going to be a very serious situation.” “You’re going to see (hopefully not a lot of) chaos, and you might even see violence,” he said.