Immigration shift sparks reaction from both sides
June 15th, 2012
11:01 AM ET
10 years ago

Immigration shift sparks reaction from both sides

(CNN) - Reactions flowed in Friday to the White House announcement that it will stop deporting young illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children if they meet certain requirements.

See the full list of statements after the jump.

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina

"This is amnesty. It ignores the law and invites more people to come here illegally, while we still haven't secured the border or fixed our inefficient legal immigration system. We are a nation that has and will always welcome immigrants with open arms, but it must be done legally instead of creating new incentives to break the law. We have debated this same type of amnesty numerous times in the last decade, and each time the American people rejected it and demanded border security and a better legal immigration system. The President’s actions trample on the rule of law and remind voters of why he should be defeated in November."

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio

“Despite promising to address illegal immigration early in his term, the president has failed to lead on yet another important national issue, and is instead resorting to an election-year gambit that provides no certainty to immigrants, employers, and the American people. The president's job is to build consensus on tough issues, not pick and choose what laws he enforces based on campaign polling data.”

Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York

“With its action today, the Obama Administration is making a significant portion of the DREAM Act a reality. Ending deportations of innocent young people who have the potential to drive tomorrow’s economy is long overdue, as are many common-sense reforms needed to center our immigration policy around our economic needs. We have a system that is choking our economic growth by chasing away the entrepreneurs who can create jobs and the talented people businesses need to succeed and grow. Smart immigration policy protects our borders while ensuring America remains the destination for all those willing to work hard and dream big."

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, D-Los Angeles

"It reflects the nation's priorities. Many of these people were brought to this country as infants. The vast majority of them have lived here their entire life. These young people know no other country and often times can't speak the language of their parents and or whatever country they came from. This is the right thing to do. I applaud the president for doing it, and I think it's going to mean a great deal to the many families who live in terror that their kids may get deported through no fault of their own."

Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago

Immigrants are a driving force in cultural and economic life in cities throughout our nation and a vital part of our country’s history and future. Here in Chicago, whether in Rogers Park or Little Village, our city’s vitality has been built on the strength of immigrant populations that have come to enjoy new freedoms and access new opportunities. I applaud President Obama for making strides that will not only help the City of Chicago grow, but will give families and students across the country a better chance of achieving the American Dream.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa

“The President's action is an affront to the process of representative government by circumventing Congress and with a directive he may not have the authority to execute. The President once denied that he had the legal authority to do this, and Congress was assured more than once that the administration would consider individuals for this sort of deferred status on a case-by-case basis only, and that there was no plan to implement a broad-based program. It seems the President has put election-year politics above responsible policies."

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida

“There is broad support for the idea that we should figure out a way to help kids who are undocumented through no fault of their own, but there is also broad consensus that it should be done in a way that does not encourage illegal immigration in the future. This is a difficult balance to strike, one that this new policy, imposed by executive order, will make harder to achieve in the long run. Today’s announcement will be welcome news for many of these kids desperate for an answer, but it is a short term answer to a long term problem. And by once again ignoring the Constitution and going around Congress, this short term policy will make it harder to find a balanced and responsible long term one.”

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pennsylvania

"Today, President Obama blatantly ignored our Constitution, the role of Congress in making laws, and the separation of powers. He showed us all that he believes he is above the Constitution and the law on healthcare, marriage, religious freedom and now immigration. President Obama's ideology, his inability to lead and build consensus, and his political self-interest guide his policies rather than the public interest. The contribution of immigrants to our country is central to our success, but so is the Constitution and the rule of law. We should honor both rather than undermining legal immigration and Constitutional principles such as separation of powers. President Obama's actions today are part of a disturbing and arrogant pattern where he believes that his administration knows better than those who we elect to represent us in Congress. And if he has the opportunity to govern for four more years, I strongly believe our country's future prosperity is at risk."

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa

"Americans should be outraged that President Obama is planning to usurp the Constitutional authority of the United States Congress and grant amnesty by edict to 1 million illegal aliens," said King. "There is no ambiguity in Congress about whether the DREAM Act's amnesty program should be the law of the land. It has been rejected by Congress, and yet President Obama has decided that he will move forward with it anyway. President Obama, an ex constitutional law professor, whose favorite word is audacity, is prepared to violate the principles of Constitutional Law that he taught."

Gov. Jan Brewer, R-Arizona

It is no coincidence that this sweeping policy change which was announced less than five months before a presidential election. Most importantly, this unilateral act is a preemptive strike against the United States Supreme Court in it's decision on senate bill 1070 which may come as early as this Monday. It doesn't take a cynic to recognize this action for what it is: blatant political pandering by a president desperate to shore up his political base. As I've said many times our nation's immigration system is as broken as our border. But now is not the time to grant broad amnesty to nearly one million people and now is not the time to approve something via executive fiat which that president knows he could never get through Congress.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Chairman Charles A. Gonzalez, D-Texas

“I commend President Obama for taking action to avoid further injustices against young people who have so much to contribute to our country. The president’s actions were necessary due to the grid lock which has sadly become a normal condition for Congress. A legislative remedy is still needed. President Obama’s decision should serve as a call to action for the Congress to meet its responsibilities.”

Rep. Peter King, R-New York

“The Administration is overstepping its authority by weakening immigration laws without Congressional approval. I am very concerned about efforts to administratively implement amnesty for countless illegal aliens under the age of 30. It is vital that US borders are secure prior to any consideration of amnesty proposals."

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York

"In one fell swoop the President has accomplished what far too few Republicans were brave enough to even discuss. The President has done all he can and it is now up to our colleagues across the aisle to join us in finishing the job and passing the full and undiluted DREAM Act."

Rep. Allen West, R-Florida

"This is yet another example of executive branch overreach. We have a legislative process that ensures representative governance by the consent of the American people. This action should be crafted into legislation, debated in committee and brought before the House and Senate for vote, with accordance of our Constitutional Republic way. Secretary Napolitano is an unelected administrative bureaucrat who does not have the right to make governing decisions for this country. It is apparent that the goal of the Obama administration is not to govern, but rule by edict. This again is a reflection of the desperation of President Obama and his liberal progressive disciples as November draws nearer. I find it ironic that Secretary Napolitano would not assist our State of Florida with ensuring the integrity of the voting process but she can make a unilateral decision about who can reside in America."

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois

“The Obama Administration’s decision to extend temporary legal status to DREAM Act students is an historic humanitarian moment. This action will give these young immigrants their chance to come out of the shadows and be part of the only country they’ve ever called home. These young people did not make the decision to come to this country, and it is not the American way to punish children for their parents’ actions. I commend President Obama and Secretary Janet Napolitano for their courage and leadership. I also want to thank Senator Dick Lugar for having the courage to confront Tea Party orthodoxy and join me on a bipartisan basis to request this change in policy”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina

“Mr. President, I don’t think this is a wise way to fix a broken immigration system. This decision avoids dealing with Congress and the American people instead of fixing a broken immigration system once and for all. This is a classic Barack Obama move of choosing politics over leadership.”

Sen. Lamar Smith, R-Texas

“President Obama’s decision to grant amnesty to potentially millions of illegal immigrants is a breach of faith with the American people. It also blatantly ignores the rule of law that is the foundation of our democracy. This huge policy shift has horrible consequences for unemployed Americans looking for jobs and violates President Obama’s oath to uphold the laws of this land."

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey

“For all the young people who call this country their home but have been unable to fulfill their dreams, I am profoundly grateful to the President and the Administration for suspending the deportation of Dreamers. For these young men and women who want to become doctors, teachers, police officers and soldiers, this announcement will change their lives forever.”

Most Reverend José H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration

On behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), I welcome the announcement by President Obama today. . . This important action will provide protection from removal and work authorization for a vulnerable group of immigrants who deserve to remain in our country and contribute their talents to our communities. These youth are bright, energetic, and eager to pursue their education and reach their full potential. They did not enter our nation on their own volition, but rather came to the United States with their parents as children, something all of us would do. We call upon the President also to review Administration deportation policies and more aggressively pursue the policy of prosecutorial discretion for other populations, a policy which was announced last year. Families continue to be deported and separated, causing undue suffering. The action by the President today is no substitute for enactment of the DREAM Act in Congress.

Frank Jannuzi, the head of Amnesty International’s Washington office

“Amnesty International welcomes President Obama’s steps to relieve the plight of undocumented children and their uncertain futures, but it is a temporary measure. Immigrant children and their families, and the country as a whole, deserve a permanent solution, not tomorrow or after the election, but right now. Amnesty International urges Congress to pass the 2011 version of the DREAM Act as well as address other urgent issues facing migrant communities and undocumented individuals.”

Laura Vazquez, National Council of La Raza (NCLR), spokeswoman

“National Council of La Raza believes that this is a legitimate use of the tools that the administration has to focus on their immigration enforcement resources. In light of the congressional inaction on immigration reform, this is the right step for the administration to take at this time.”

Filed under: Immigration • President Obama
soundoff (118 Responses)
  1. reginaldb6

    Great political move control the news cycle, and do the right thing.

    June 15, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  2. Rudy NYC

    The parents knew what they were doing when they burdened their own children with the risk of deportation. Why should we relieve them of that risk? I know it is not the kids fault, but we need a deterrent to this type of behavior. I disagree with this policy strongly. I know it is not the kid's fault. But, it is not the taxpayers fault either. Fault lies with the parents.

    June 15, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  3. 1twinsfan

    Oh boy. As a wife of and Mom to Hispanics, I don't feel completely cool with this. Right now in this country, there is such open hatred to the Latino, no matter where they were born. People just assume anyone with a last name of Garcia, Gonzales or Gomez is here illegally from Mexico. You know, all those born in El Paso, Chicago, Phoenix, Denver, San Diego. I know we need immigration reform but I don't know that this will help. Time will tell.

    June 15, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  4. mikle

    He will do whatever to win 2012. What a president?

    June 15, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  5. dwexpressions

    Excellent decision President Obama!

    June 15, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  6. ChristopherM

    To Lindsay Graham, I'd say when the president is faced with an obstructionist Congress whose only stated goal is to prevent his reelection rather than to accomplish anything, I really don't see as how he has much other choice other than to bypass Congress. Excellent work, Mr. President!

    June 15, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  7. David

    Great Job Mr. President

    June 15, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  8. RobK

    What this will do is further encourage parents to try and smuggle their children across the border in very dangerous circumstances, in the hopes of achieving permanent residence.

    June 15, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  9. Getoverit

    Of course. He needs their vote in November.

    June 15, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  10. Justin

    *Rep. Lamar Smith

    June 15, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  11. Rudy NYC


    What this will do is further encourage parents to try and smuggle their children across the border in very dangerous circumstances, in the hopes of achieving permanent residence.
    Exactly. Many parents are willing to put themselves and their own kids at such a grave risk, for the chance that their offspring can live in America. We should not be rewarding the parents. The kids are pawns caught in the middle, put into jeopardy by their own parents whose desire is for the kids to live here. We should not be rewarding the parents for their reckless, illegal behaviors.

    June 15, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  12. mannycl

    A shameless president. What a hypocrite. It's all about votes.

    June 15, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  13. Michael B.

    More children without parents because the parents will be deported. Great! More taxpayer dollars spent on finding homes for these children of parents who are abusing their kids to try to come to America. They would do much good to teach their children to be successful no matter where you live.

    June 15, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  14. macrasta

    the only people who should be upset are American Indians.. if what determines legal and going thru immigration dept and getting or not getting a stamp of approval to migrate here... then we are all illegal when we trace back to our history... good job President! if congress keeps obstructing.. do what you need to do to move us "forward"...

    June 15, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  15. Big Al

    I say open this country to all foreigners. In fact, our land mass can handle 1-2 billion people. If taxes need to be raised to handle this situation, then so be it.

    Open the borders Mr. President!

    June 15, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  16. W-inning T-he F-uture

    Guess it's now legal to rob banks or commit other crimes as long as you give the money to your kids...

    June 15, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  17. Karl

    This president can do no good.......... it doesn't matter what he does. His only choice is to endorse Mick Romney. What a bunch of sore losers!

    June 15, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  18. VTBobb

    So Obama's job's plan is
    1. Hire more govrnment workers (even though we are running a $1.3 Trillion deficit)
    2. Add somehwere near a million or more illegals to the job market (to compete against the demographic with the largest unemployment in the US)
    3. Cede our sovereignty to a multinational tribunal to essentially overturn our laws by allowing multinational corporations to violate US laws that they don't agree with and potentially give those multinational corporations an advantage over US corporations

    I hate it when I see people posting how Obama wants to detsroy the country so he can remake it into his vision...But I am starting to wonder if maybe there is something to that. How elese do you explain hm saying:

    "Overturning the law would be “an unprecedented, extraordinary step” since it was passed by a majority of members in the House and Senate". Maybe in his new Obamatopia, but you would think a "Constitutional Professor" would now that the Supreme Court's purpose is exactly that when the government reaches too far.

    Good lord, now I sound like one of those far right nuts...Thanks BO!

    June 15, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  19. Sandy

    Yeah, Obama! I'm not Latino, but I know a lot of good people that are. Very well done, Mr. President.

    June 15, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  20. joe

    How is this about votes when he already has the Hispanic vote?This is about doing the right thing and delivering on a campaign promise. How long has the Dream Act been held up? We have a president who is not afraid of putting his neck on the line when it comes to doing the right thing. He did it with health care, dont ask dont tell and he did it a few weeks ago when he expressed his views on gay marriage. They have tried to stop him but keep failing time after time. Good always prevail. $ more year, they cant stop it….

    June 15, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  21. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    With an unprotected southern border, how many more illegals will be flooding over the border with their underage children once they get wind of this??? This leftist dictator that thinks he can ignore our laws and make up his own MUST GO. Impeachment proceedings are in order. He is in blatant violation of his oath of office.

    June 15, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  22. EDDIE

    Now the repub's "Fight to keep America White" campaign just hit a snag. Here comes the cries of" we will fight this" from the repubs.' Oh also "the sky is falling". Quick with voter reform we need it NOW!!!.Just sitting back and watching the

    June 15, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  23. Jon

    Perhaps President Obama forgot to read the Constitution before he took the oath of office. Legislating from the Oval Office is a breach of his oath and promise that he made to us as American Citizens. But breaking promises is nothing new for this President. He told us what it would take for him to be a one term President, let’s just "Hope" that the American people will help him keep that promise. Can we elect someone better than Obama? “Yes, We can.” By doing so we can give America “hope” for a better “Future.”

    June 15, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  24. vic , nashville ,tn

    To Sen. Lamar Smith, R-Texas comments
    Last year Alabama past the immigration law to bring the unemployment rate down but it back fired on state when they arrested the job creator
    In Alabama farmers broke they couldn’t find people to work in the farm

    To Rep. Allen West, R-Florida comments
    Irresponsible representative I ever seen , even Michael Chertoff won’t agree with you

    June 15, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  25. once upon a horse

    @ Rudy NYC

    I normally support and agree with your post but these don't kids also become taxpayers as well? If they work, join the service or even go to school somewhere along the line they are paying taxes. I think it's this weeks Time that has a story about illegal aliens and if it is indeed accurate I was shocked at just how much taxes and spending that they add to the economy and how much money would be lost if they wee all deporteed. It would be millions.

    June 15, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
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