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. pabloinbama

    Impeach Obama. He obviously has no regard for the laws of this country and breaks them whenever he feels like it.

    June 15, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  2. Ethics Boards

    Wasn't the Constitution written by immigrants who acted illegally against their former country by revolting? Last time I checked, the answer was yes.

    June 15, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  3. dreucalypt

    This is a turning point, equal to Truman's order desegregating the army.

    June 15, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  4. georgeFlorida

    The only consistent aspect of US Immigration Law is its fickle-mindedness.

    June 15, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  5. Arden Cogar

    Thank you Mr. President. You did the right and LEGAL thing for these children. This is not amnesty you are providing, but it is a temporary 2 year program during which time congress can debate and pass the Dream Act. All these detractors writing their negative crap on here should educate themselves as to exactly what LEGAL procedure you have enacted. They will learn this act is not limited to Hispanics but also covers citizens from other countries who are in this country for various reasons and cannot return to their own countries. They, like the children of illegal Hispanic immigrants are receiving a 2 year "window of opportunity" to try to resolve their illegal status with the U.S. government. Again, you have NOT GRANTED AMNESTY; as did President Reagan; you have granted a 2 year reprieve with the ability to have work permits. I applaud your decision and your actions. Now let us see what Congress will do.

    June 15, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  6. Myviewis

    Florida Gov. Scott was right. Don't think Romney has a chance now that Obama will be gaining this new votes. Obama sure knows how to win.

    June 15, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  7. Fair is Fair


    "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."
    So let me get this straight – you think illegal immigration is OK because it saves you 20 cents per pound on tomatoes? That's pretty warped.

    June 15, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  8. Ghostdog

    There are laws in place that allow for citizenship in this country. I brought my wife here from another country legally and went through the entire process with her. She is now enjoying citizenship here in America. Having gone through the immigration process I can honestly say that it has its flaws, but giving anyone who is here illegally amnesty is like spitting in the face of those who did do it legally. I think that President Obama is wrong in what he is doing as far as illegals go. They should have to apply and submit all the legal paperwork and documentation. Laws are in place for a reason, whether we agree with them all or not. Follow the law or suffer the consequences. We want criminals behind bars when they're stealing or committing other crimes, but many seem to be willing to give a blind eye to those who are "stealing" our resources and jobs by being here illegally.

    June 15, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  9. November 2012 -- IMPEACH OBAMA, the lawless leftist dictator that violates his oath of office EVERY DAY

    Rudy NYC - I hope you realize that it was the policies of Reagan, Bush-41 and Bush-43 that really
    Oh honestly Rudy.... You use this insane reply to EVERYTHING. You actually use it more than Obama and I didn't think that was possible. Whatever is in your koolaide has totally destroyed the grey matter between your ears. Enough of the trade mark Obama smoke and mirrors. This topic is about the new Obama dictatorship that has declares or laws and elected Senators and Reps do not matter because Obama can do whatever he wants, no matter what o r laws say.

    June 15, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  10. Ed1

    What about all the people who followed the rules kind of a slap in the face to them and everybody here that are here legal.

    I thought the President took an oath to uphold the laws of the United States and not pick and chose which laws should be enforced. This is just a bunch of BS and nothing but trying to get votes. If we enforced the laws we have on the books the states wouldn't have to pass the same laws that our government will not enforce and just another law suit by the government to the states because they will not.

    Time to go home Obama and Holder we can't afford you anymore.

    June 15, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  11. arale norimaki

    I have a DREAM that immigrants wanting to live and study here will abide by the laws of this Country. Laws that were in place before they got in. This is supposed to be a nation of laws.
No illegal immigrants should be given citizenship. We have immigration laws that must be followed, and following those laws is the pathway to being a legal resident in the U.S.

    Why do the pro illegal natural assume all illegal are Hispanics ?

    there is a difference between Illegal and Legal immigration.  All sides of the immigration debate need to recognize that distinction in order to hold productive debate.

    other vs. Cubans: Is There A Double Standard On Illegal Aliens?

    June 15, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  12. awright

    What Arden Cogar said. Go Obama!

    June 15, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  13. Rick in L.A.

    California'a territory belonged to the Mexicans. The mighty U.S., who could be considered illegal immigrants, took the territory and borders were formed. I cannot wrap my head around US being anymore legal than those who truly were here first. Hispanics are trying for a better life, which everyone deserves. If everyone follows the rules, everyone wins.

    June 15, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  14. Tom

    So the Republicans are against it and the Democrats (and la Raza) are for it? Who could have guessed? Anyway, I have to side with the Republicans on this one. And how the hell is Amnesty International involved? Nobody is tortuing these folks, just sending them back to their country. I guess they consider that inhumane. If they like it here so much, why do they take every opportunity to wave their flag in OUR country?

    June 15, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  15. alex

    pandora's box – i guess obuma looking for those extra votes; maybe they can vote often like those dead folks

    June 15, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  16. MTindependent

    That's the last straw for me. I can't support a president who would do this to the actual Americans who elected him.

    June 15, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  17. Jon

    Hey dont forget, back about 6 months to a year ago Obama's uncle who was an illegal immigrant, was arrested in the North East.

    June 15, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  18. once upon a horse

    boy I bet right wing radio and FoxNews are just LOVING this LOL

    June 15, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  19. Andres Hernandez

    Go Obama! I came here legally, obtained my permanent residency legally, and I am soon to be a U.S. Citizen. I studied Electrical Engineering and I am working full time. To all those ignorant people out there, this is not an AMNESTY act. It is simply granting a 2 year window for them to find a work permit or a follow the legalization process.

    I don't really feel Obama slapping me in the face like some people are saying. I feel content!

    June 15, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  20. Rex

    Classic Obama/liberal philosophy – you are wiser and smarter than everyone else, so laws which you consider wrong will simply be uninforced (memories of the defense of marriage act). Just remember, what goes around comes around, and when the Repubs get back in office (and it WILL happen at some point), they can do the same according to their own philosophy. You are playing with fire and setting a dangerous precedent by usurping the authority of Congress to make the law. If you don't like a law (and I actually support the Dream Act concept as well as abhor the DOM act), then CHANGE THE LAW. This will hurt all of us in the final analysis.

    June 15, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  21. HB

    and as soon as these kids get their citizenships, which they eventually will, they'll apply for green cards for their parents who brought them here...

    June 15, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  22. Myviewis

    Congratulation President Obama you have just won re-election by adding 800,000 illegal immigrant youth to your campaign. You knew how to play this game. Republicans didn't see this one coming.

    June 15, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  23. joseelr

    Obama – anything for a vote!

    June 15, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  24. Rooscow

    Thank you Mr. President for showing the world that we are not a nation of fascists, thugs and terrorists and hold harmless children brought into this country by others who chose to forsake their legal obligations for whatever reason. We refuse to hold children hostage, or worse for the misguided acts of those who were responsible for their welfare.

    June 15, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  25. Marco Rubio

    These young people knew they were illegal when they were brought here, or at least when they were 6-7 years old. Why can't we just deport them along with their parents? Do the young people get to stay while their parents don't? I don't get it, except for it appears to be an attempt by Obama to get more latino votes.

    June 15, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
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