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. November 2012 -- IMPEACH OBAMA, the lawless leftist dictator that violates his oath of office EVERY DAY

    Obama has sacrificed and violated the laws of this nation in an attempt to get re-elected after 4 years of falure. This cannot be allowed to stand. Removal in November or impeachment before then. Those are the only two choices.

    June 15, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  2. demogoat

    People who say this is about votes, he already has 2/3 of the Latino vote in the bag. My guess is the other 1/3 won't vote.

    June 15, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  3. unblv

    Is this new tactic to get latino vote from this administration??

    June 15, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  4. pkbkr

    It's the right thing to do, Mr. President! Thank you!

    June 15, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  5. Fair is Fair


    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"...
    What a pile of camel dung. We are a nation of LAWS. Throw that premise away, and you throw the country away. PERIOD.

    June 15, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  6. Guest

    Excellent work Mr. President, you just nullified the effort that millions of legal immigrants take to come to US legally and wait for years to gain proper immigrant status

    June 15, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  7. Bill

    I could not help but laugh at that reprobate Alan West's comment. Executive overeach? Was he asleep from 2000 – 2009 when Bush signed more executives orders than any president before him. Thankfully, clowns like West will be summarily beaten in November.

    June 15, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  8. Jon

    When states can be won or lost by 500 votes, this action by this President is all about votes.

    June 15, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  9. ad_iudicium

    Pure political theatre. Just another move to try to divide the country and paint conservatives as villians. Expect to see more of these. For the politically savy, it won't work.

    June 15, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  10. GuY

    The further deterioration of America, not as a result of the people, but as a result of inforcing THE LAW (or lack there of) politician don't give a damn so long as they get re-elected. Break the law for votes. Vote this law-breaker out. Some example Obama is setting. Its ok to break the law. And the crime continues to increase

    June 15, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  11. Juan

    Children who are born in this country, of parents who are citizens or not, ARE AMERICANS. Thank you President Obama.

    June 15, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  12. blake

    Whether the decision is a good one or bad one is not the core issue here. It is an abuse of executive branch authority. This is a legislative branch decision. Obama once again is demonostrating that he believes he is above the law and that he holds the U.S. constitution with contempt. This should be grounds for impeachment and removal from office.

    June 15, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  13. yori

    This an outrage to our Constitution, for those who have served and die for this country and for those like me who came here legally. King Obama will be out in November!!

    June 15, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  14. Name Rafael

    This just makes sense!!
    The only difference between these kids and the rest of their peers are those "9 magic numbers"
    Thank you Mr. President.

    June 15, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  15. Mark

    Some of them want the president to invade Syria in the name of protecting children, however they want the president to send other children to drug war countries. Folks, human dignity and what America stand for start from your own backyard.

    June 15, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  16. Dyna Hog

    If this is a new tactic to get "Latino" votes, it will FAIL. Think about it.

    1) Only American Citizens can vote.

    2) Children of American Citizens that have needs to find a Job this summer or anytime, now have 800,000 illegal aliens granted immunity and given a work-permit.

    It will be harder for American Citizens to get work with the added competition.

    3) For all Americans with children graduating from High School, their first thing to do could be to find Summer work before College or long term permanent work if they are not going to College.

    Is it not going to be tougher for them in "this JOBS market" to find a job with 800,000 dumped into the Look-For-Job group?

    There are an estimated 3 Million Americans graduating from High School this year. What do they do?



    June 15, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  17. ThinkAgain

    Illegal immigration wasn't a concern until about 2006, when Karl Rove started fanning the flames in his attempt to create an "other" for white folks to get mad at. Why did he do this? Because he knew GOP policies would tank the economy and wanted to cut social services as the only way to balance the budget (deficits created by GW's voodoo economics of waging war while cutting taxes) – and needed an easily-identifiable scapegoat. Who better than those brown folks?

    If you want to stop illegal immigration – then QUIT HIRING ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS!

    June 15, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  18. Myviewis

    Thanks Janet Napolitano for confirming that Florida was correct, illegal immigrants are able to vote, contrary to the believe of many that an illegal immigrant wouldn't show up to the voting polls to vote fearing they would be arrested and deported. See, illegal children, under 30 have served in the US Military and US Coast Guard, which means they've been voting all along. And if they had not voted before than they will vote now. Anything for a Vote.

    June 15, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  19. David

    I don't believe that a single person can have so much power...there's something wrong here. Isn't he supposed to go through Congress or something to get this kind of thing done? I think this kind of thing should be put to a vote in each individual state and let the people decide.

    June 15, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  20. n

    Go get em Bo . . . I mean President Barack Obama!

    June 15, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  21. JM

    Damn, I guess i'm another democrat for Romney now. Sigh.

    June 15, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  22. ab initio

    If you are a Democrat, you are not an individual. You are an issue.

    June 15, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  23. nick287

    What about the Americans who lost their jobs, Mr. President? Is that how you rule this country, by letting illegals laugh in the faces of Americans? I can't wait to see you kicked out of the White House!!!!!!! What a shameless piece of garbage.

    June 15, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  24. WOW

    I'm confused as to why this is a debate. If you are here illegally you are breaking the law plain and simple. You don't pay taxes yet want to take advantage of our opportunities here. There are millions of families that work everyday yet can't afford to send their kids to college. Millions of Americans cannot find work and are at their breaking point. Why isn't the American people and economy the #1 concern for any politician now?
    Try going and living in another country illegally and protest for rights and services and see how far you get. Everyone here is so afraid of offending people. I'm just trying to live a peaceful and happy life with my family yet as a hard working class family we are always getting the shaft.
    Sorry illegals, you cannot have my money. I have earned it and pay enough taxes already.

    June 15, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  25. Jay

    Thank you Mr President. I greatly appeciate the opportunity that you have givin me and my dream generation. A chance to become part of America officia, l even though we consider ourself American by heart. Sincerely Jay P.

    June 15, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
1 2 3 4 5