Immigration policy has become a hot topic as the 2016 Presidential primary picks up steam. It is no surprise that the issue of Presidential authority over immigration has taken center stage in recent weeks as Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush have all begun discussing their views around how far the President should have gone with respect to executive action on immigration and what they would do if they were President.
Hilary Clinton said to a group in a public event in Las Vegas last week that she would defend the President’s immigration actions and hinted at ways in which she might take them further.
“I will fight to stop partisan attacks on the executive actions that would put DREAMers—including many with us today—at risk of deportation. And…if Congress refuses to act, as President I will do everything possible under the law to go even further. There are more people—like many parents of DREAMers and others with deep ties and contributions to our communities—who deserve a chance to stay. I’ll fight for them too.
“The law currently allows for sympathetic cases to be reviewed, but right now most of these cases have no way to get a real hearing. Therefore we should put in place a simple, straightforward, and accessible way for parents of DREAMers and others with a history of service and contribution to their communities to make their case and be eligible for the same deferred action as their children.”
Marco Rubio would preserve some, but not all of the President’s actions, by removing protections for undocumented parents of U.S. Citizens and permanent residents (DAPA) but keep those in place for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), according to the Miami Herald:
“The Florida senator, who is already a formal presidential candidate, has said he would do away with DAPA right away if it doesn’t die in court first but leave DACA in place at first while pushing Congress to pass immigration legislation.
“At some point, it’s going to have to end — that can’t become the permanent policy of the United States — but on the short term I’ve said I won’t remove it,” Rubio told CNN en Español last month. “I would eliminate DAPA, the new measure, and I would use the position of president to advance a responsible immigration-reform process.”
Jeb Bush is harder to pin down. This week, he said that current legal challenges to DACA and DAPA will end the initiatives. When asked directly by a Fox News anchor if he will bring an end to the program he responded “Absolutely, I would. Of course.” Later when asked how he would undo it, he said by passing meaningful immigration reform. Without further clarification, however, it is hard to be completely sure what he means. How aggressively would he work to undo the President’s actions and does he mean both DACA and DAPA? Or would he leave them intact, if they survive the legal challenges until he could get reform passed?
Perhaps as Bush refines his positions he should call a family meeting.
Ironically in the same interview Bush says “I totally understand why people were upset when Barack Obama with the stroke of a pen through executive action takes unconstitutional actions.”
Ironic as both his father and brother used their executive authority to shield immigrants from deportation. Indeed, before President Obama, George Bush Sr. had taken the most aggressive steps, shielding more than a million individuals from possible deportation through the 1990 Family Fairness program. Also, George W. acted four times through executive action to protect immigrants.
As the campaign season continues, what candidates say about the future of President’s Obama’s executive actions on immigration is important. In the face of an intractable Congress, the President’s executive actions have been the one area of policy progress in years. How our next President promises to handle it has implications for the millions who may potentially qualify.