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. Eddie The Barber

    Romney and his 1% friends will use this to their political advantage no doubt. But in their dark hearts they will rejoyce because once legalized, they can hire these Mexicans at very low wages to clean their mansions, weed their flower gardens, take care of their offsprings, clean their pools and toilets and wash their big cars and not be called out for hiring illegals.

    June 15, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  2. Sam

    So they aren't going to punish the children because "they did nothing wrong" but what are they going to do about the parents who CHOSE to break the law?

    June 15, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  3. RFH

    WOW! So now we have that many more law breakers to support with all the deficit spending the administration loves. It is time to oust this president and repeal any of these destructive policies.

    June 15, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  4. ThinkAgain

    @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."

    Two things: If people weren't willing to break the law by hiring illegal immigrants, they wouldn't come to our country. Your beef is with THOSE people who would rather break the law and save on labor costs – and lay off American citizens. (And if you've ever knowingly hired an illegal immigrant, than I suggest you trot yourself down to the police station and turn yourself in, plain and simple.)

    Secondly, illegal immigrants may not pay income tax, but they pay all other taxes, including sales, gas, excise, etc.

    June 15, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  5. Bruce

    What Obama is doing is completely LEGAL. It just rankles the republicans that scream about illegals but refuse to pass any laws to help. All they do is block everything and say Obama does nothing. Sorry. THis is legal and about time.

    June 15, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  6. Sam

    It's hilarious to hear the Democratic politicians echo Obama's rhetoric on this issue, as if even one of them give a crap about Hispanics.

    The only thing that any of the Democrats care about is keeping the royalty lifestyle that all federal politicians get to enjoy.

    And this reality applies to the Republicans, too. Do you really believe they care about "looking out for Americans?" Pllleeease. The only Americans they're looking out for are themselves and their own families.

    Thomas Jefferson was right when he observed that "Every generation needs a new revolution." The last thing that could be called that was the Civil War, so we're about – what? – 125 years overdue?

    You can see T.J.'s reasons for his statement when you look at just how broken of a nation and system we have. That's what revolutions do: they purge the corruption and dysfunction from a nation and give it a fresh start, with a chance to leave the devastation behind.

    June 15, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  7. Reprimand Congress Now

    Way to go Mr. Obama! Congress won't deal with this issue, nor anything about jobs. Congress should reprimand itself, cut its pay to Zero, for not doing their job. We should fire every person in Congress this November and start over.

    June 15, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  8. B.

    Obama has been very consistent in his efforts to support ALL people in the country and not just a certain demographic few as Romney is.

    Romney was born and has lived in a sheltered bubble of the privileged and does not have a clue about most Americans and their challenges. He is and would be a puppet of Wall Street and Corporations to the detriment of everyone else.

    June 15, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  9. WOW


    So they aren't going to punish the children because "they did nothing wrong" but what are they going to do about the parents who CHOSE to break the law?

    June 15, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |

    Sam: they will be off the hook too because there will be riots and protests of how evil we are for seperating familes. It's very important to keep lawbreaking familes together on American soil.

    June 15, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC


    ...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....
    I hope you realize that it was the policies of Reagan, Bush-41 and Bush-43 that really opened the flood gates for illegals to come into this country. You see, conservatives saw the million man strong labor forces south of our borders as cheap labor, able to unseat and replace union workers. You need to check your history. Almost all of your rants are about problems that conservative policies have created. For example, Bush-41 declared that the IRS Form I-9 no longer needed to be sent to the IRS with W4 forms for new employees. A decade later, Bush-43 declared that employers no longer need to keep I-9s on file after are mere *three* years. I bleme Republicans for incentivising illegal immigration.

    June 15, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  11. ThinkAgain

    @RFH: "WOW! So now we have that many more law breakers to support with all the deficit spending the administration loves."

    Here are the lawbreakers I'd like to toss in the brink: Haliburton with its defrauding the American taxpayer during the Iraq war; all the Wall Street banksters who defrauded their investors with shady dealings and derivatives and then defrauded the American public when we bailed them out and they STILL kept credit tight; all the millionaires and billionaires who have told us for 10 years that if we just give them more and more tax cuts they'll create jobs – which has NOT happened.

    June 15, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  12. Bruce

    Obama has enforced immigration law more than ANY other president. More illegals have been deported under Obama than under any other president. THis is not about votges, it's about stopping the destruction of lives. Stopping the deportation of intelligent, educated young people that can help this country. THis country was built by immigrants. We need them. They need us.

    June 15, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  13. 1nd3p3nd3nt

    not like the GOP gave obama any reason to try to appeal to their voters at all. Obama is a muslim. Obama is a socialist. Obama does too much and not enough.

    what did you think he was going to do? have you ever heard of rope a dope before? he was sitting back for two years, waiting, now he's starting to let loose.

    gop PUSHED obama to the left, lmao !

    June 15, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  14. Scum 1981

    A good move. A lot of these kids have grown up in this country and gone to school and simply want to contribute, either in the military or in other matters. They love the country because it is the country that they were not is the shining city on the hill. I say, if they wish to contribute by going to school or joining the military, let them in. It's better for everyone. Maybe some day they'll be a "job creator".

    June 15, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  15. ThinkAgain

    @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."

    Their parents wouldn't have come here if Americans weren't willing to hire them illegally – and if their own country provided them with any kind of opportunity. These parents came here to make a better life for themselves and their children – and they have added to our economy with their spending of wages (low by our standards, but higher than what they left).

    These immigrants are also willing to do labor that so many Americans are unwilling to do – just ask Alabama if you don't believe me.

    June 15, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  16. Fair is Fair


    "If you want to stop illegal immigration – then QUIT HIRING ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS!"
    Yeah. And SECURE the border. And ENFORCE immigration laws. Or don't the last 2 count in your world?

    June 15, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  17. DC Johnny

    Right thing or wrong thing morally, it is an incredible abuse by the president to determine that he alone can make and execute legal decisions

    For all of you who applaud this move, try to think of the bigger picture. As an admitted Conservative, I would stand and shout loudly against a Republican president issuing an executive order to ban gay marriage if Congress had voted otherwise.

    It is as irresponsible a move as I've ever seen by a president, including the debacles GWB left us. Let's put it this way – suppose President Romney comes in and decides on his own that Obamacare is illegal or immoral, and instructs his HHS secretary and his Attorney General not to enforce any of the statutes it contains.

    Is that what you want, libs? You want a series of all-powerful presidents? Because that is what you're applauding when you commend Obama on this. Welcome to the monarchy of the United States. You have yourselves to thank.

    June 15, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  18. 1nd3p3nd3nt

    obama's been playing rope-a-dope for two years, republican congress has done nothing, and the arguments against obama, he's muslim, he's socialist, he's anti-american, etc etc, are ridiculous.

    guess what GOP, since you are acting like a noob, if you already accuse and blame obama for being too far to the left, you give him nothing to lose by actually going there, and everything to gain. If you refuse the middle ground, you give him the only ground available to stand on.

    rope-a-dope, now obama is starting to swing back. watch out. game on

    June 15, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  19. John

    Obama would sell his mother for a vote. Most people favor legal immigration giving free passes to illegal’s is a slap in the face to every person who has come to this country by legal means and worked to become US citizens. All this does is tell people break the law and sooner or later you will get your free ride. Can’t wait to get this idiot out of office, he is way in over his head.

    June 15, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  20. Bruce

    Immigration is a funny thing. First it was the Chinese. The "yellow terror" as Hearst put it. They country was anti-Chinese. Yet, they helps us with our westward expansion, playing a big part in the building of our railroads. THen it was the Irish that were coming over by the boatload. We didn't want them either. Don't forget the jews, poles and others that we didn't want. Now we generally accept all of them EXCEPT Mexicans. THey are the latest "terror". Get over it people. We need immigrants as much as they need us. Wanna pick fruits and vegetables in the hot sun for low wages? I didn't think so.

    June 15, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  21. O.

    illegal is illegal. When are we going to start taking care of our own children and our own country. I say send the illegals back where they came from

    June 15, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  22. NoWay

    Since out lame congress just can't seem to go ANYthing productive, maybe the time has come.

    June 15, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  23. Fe Chung

    Impeach Obama and enforce the law.
    This is unfair to those waiting more than 20 years to get an immigrant visa to come here.
    Whether they are young or old, even if it is through no fault of their own, they have to be deported, to make room for those who have been waiting for decades to immigrate here legally.
    It is unfortunate that Obama and the illegals are using twisted logic in order to get re-elected as president.
    Throw the bum out

    June 15, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  24. WOW


    America has always been known as a place to live out your dreams and that's why so many immigrants come here. I myself am the daughter of immigrants but they went through the proper channels to come to this country. My father has always said that one of his proudest days in his life was when he passed the test and received his American Citizenship. We need to have pride in this country and respect it's laws. You can't come here illegally and then get mad if we don't hand you a citizenship on a silver platter. There is no easy solution to this problem but I do think that until we clean our own house we shouldn't make exception for others.
    Unfortunately as we have seen over the past few years, our own people are losing their homes because they cannot find work. Our own people need be the #1 concern of our government which clearly we are not.

    June 15, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  25. Bruce

    DC Johnny – Your last republican president issued more Executive ORders than any president in history. Now you complain? What Obama did is not only legal, it was necessary since the Party of No won't allow anyting to pass. All the GOP does is bow down to Grover N.

    June 15, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
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