Obama Administration Faces Backlash Over Immigration Reform

On Tuesday, the Obama administration delayed the implementation of an executive order that would bypass a gridlocked Congress and allow up to 4.7 million illegal immigrants to stay without threat of deportation.


The delay came late Monday evening from U.S. District Judge Andrew Hennen in Brownsville, Texas, who ruled in favor of 26 states that challenged President Obama’s immigration order. According to Reuters, the president said that the administration will comply with the federal judge’s orders and delay accepting applications from illegal immigrants looking to file for deportation and work permits, which was set to begin last Wednesday.


In a press release from the White House, the Press Secretary asserts that “…the Supreme Court and Congress have made clear that the federal government can set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws—which is exactly what the President did when he announced commonsense policies to help fix our broken immigration system” and that “…the Department of Justice, legal scholars, immigration experts, and the district court in Washington, D.C. have determined that the President’s actions are well within his legal authority.”


This delay in implementation comes three months after President Obama introduced his original executive action that came only days after the 2014 mid-term elections. This major change in immigration policy contained two key elements. It would provide legal protection of undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have lived in the country for a minimum of five years, removing the threat of deportation while also allowing many to receive work permits. The executive order would also expand the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allowed immigrants under 30 years of age who arrived as children to apply for a deportation deferral, now making immigrants older than 30 qualify in addition to more recent arrivals.


Florida was one of the 26 states that joined the lawsuit against President Obama in opposition to his executive action which would put these policy measures into place. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the usually outspoken Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is remaining surprisingly quiet on her decision to join this lawsuit. In a state where approximately 4 million of its residents are foreign born, according to the Migration Policy Institute, the new components of the President’s executive action would likely have a direct impact on the state’s economy.


State Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, had called for Bondi to withdraw Florida from the lawsuit last week but has gone unanswered. “I plan on pushing legislation in the budgetary process to inhibit her ability to pursue this lawsuit,” Soto told the Orlando Sentinel.


In addition, the Florida Immigrant Coalition is condemning Senator Marco Rubio for voting on bill HR 240, which included harmful amendments that could stop the implementation of the President’s executive action.

In a press release Maria Rodriguez, Executive Director for the Florida Immigrant Coalition, said, “…this political theater is not the leadership we need and deserve. Senator Rubio is smart enough to know that this vote was symbolic, yet hurtful. But most importantly Senator Rubio, the son of immigrants, knows that 235,000 Floridians will have potentially life-changing opportunities with a work permit and driver’s license. We are disappointed that he is turning his back on families he once said he supported.”


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