Two and a half years ago the President campaigned for Immigration Reform, winning the election. Since then the President’s only actions have been to add more border agents and more fences and to arrest and deport more undocumented aliens. He promised to only arrest known criminal undocumented aliens. In fact he has done the opposite, arresting and deporting noncriminal and minor offenders who are undocumented, separating them from their spouses and children and thereby creating tremendous hardships and anxiety in the Latino community and in other immigrant communities. His Secure Communities Program has local and state police send fingerprints of anyone they detain to the Immigration Service for cross checking by its database. As a result the police are spending so much time on immigration arrests that they cannot properly attend to criminal activity so that public safety has been jeopardized and community cooperation has been stymied. The President has only responded to public criticism for failing to institute reform by saying he has been blocked by Congress.
WHAT CAN THE PRESIDENT DO WITHOUT CONGRESS?
To help resolve the road block imposed by Congressional inaction, the President without Congress has the power and authority to do the following:
1. He can stop states like Arizona from enforcing their hostile immigrants laws that allow Arizona peace officers to arrest anyone who looks foreign. The Attorney General of the U.S. could bring actions in Federal Court to stop any State’s inimical laws against immigrants because exclusive jurisdiction over immigration lies solely in the jurisdiction of the Federal Government;
2. He can grant immunity from deportation to minors who were brought innocently to the U.S. without papers, and now cannot get permission to work or to go to schools or college. He could also grant immunity to undocumented aliens who have fought for equal rights at work and whose employers vengefully seek to have them deported;
3. He can stop the use of E-verify system, a federal data base, because it is unreliable and has led to many persons, legal as well as illegal, in losing their jobs;
4. He could order the Immigration Service to allow illegal immigrants whose immediate relatives have U.S. citizenship or permanent residence the right to adjust their status in the U.S. without return to their countries for an immigration visa. These illegal immigrants are qualified to receive their residence but under the present law they are required to leave and return to their country. Under the present law, even though these aliens qualify for permanent residence, once they leave they are too often stuck because the Consulates are harsh and so focused on punishing them for having entered without visas or because they overstayed, that they are too often prevented from joining their immediate U.S. wives and children;
5. The President could fortify civil rights for undocumented aliens because many employers of these undocumented underpay them and take undue advantage of them, knowing that they are too afraid of losing their jobs to complain.
President Obama has said that the Immigration system is broken. There is much he can do without Congress to reform the system.