- The Washington Times - Friday, November 21, 2014

At a boisterous rally to celebrate his granting of legal status to millions of illegal immigrants, President Obama said Friday that his action won’t apply to new undocumented immigrants because “borders mean something.”

“Let’s be clear about what this deal is, and what it isn’t,” Mr. Obama said at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas. “This action doesn’t apply to anybody who’s come to this country recently. You can’t show up for a week and then suddenly apply. You can’t, because borders mean something. It doesn’t apply to anybody who might come illegally in the future.”

As he did in his address to the nation Thursday night, Mr. Obama dared congressional Republicans to pass a comprehensive immigration bill, which he said would nullify his executive actions. He rejected the argument by the GOP that his move has made it more difficult to pass such a bill because he has “poisoned the well” with Republicans.

“I understand that some of them are already saying that my actions sabotage their ability to pass a bill and make immigration work better,” Mr. Obama said, laughing. “Why? I didn’t dissolve Parliament. That’s not how our system works. I don’t have a vote in Congress. Pass a bill. You don’t need me to a pass a bill.”

The president signed two documents Friday directing federal agencies to carry out his executive actions, which include shielding more immigrants from possible deportation and focusing deportations more on people with criminal records.

Republicans in Congress who vehemently oppose Mr. Obama’s action say it will encourage more illegal immigrants to come to the U.S. There was a surge of illegal child immigrants across the U.S.-Mexico border earlier this year, in part due to the belief that they would not be returned to their homes in Central America.

Outside the high school, protesters of the president’s actions held signs that said “Impeach Obama” and “No Amnesty.” Some chanted, “Worst president ever, Obama!”

The president was interrupted at the rally several times with joyous chants of “Si Se Puede” (Yes We Can), a throwback to his presidential campaigns. He was also heckled at one point by a young man who apparently was complaining that the president’s action did not include enough illegal immigrants, such as parents of children who have already received protection from deportation by Mr. Obama.

“We’re still going to have to do more work,” Mr. Obama told the heckler, referring to the need to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill in Congress. When the young man persisted in his shouting, the president said, “I’ve heard you, young man. I’ve been respectful to you; I want you to be respectful to me.”

Astrid Silva, a woman who qualified for Mr. Obama’s deferred action plan because she came to the U.S. illegally as a child, introduced the president to the crowd. She criticized inaction by the GOP on immigration, saying “House Republicans have refused to help me keep my dreams alive.”

The president said some Americans are unfairly associating his action as only applying to Hispanic immigrants.

“Not everybody who comes here is Latino,” Mr. Obama said. “I’m from Chicago. We’ve got some Irish immigrants whose papers are not in order. We’ve got some Polish immigrants whose papers are not in order. This is not just a Latino issue. This is an American issue.”

Mr. Obama also said that his legal advisers told him that his authority was limited on immigration.

“Not everything that we want to do, we can do,” he said. “We should be creating new programs for farm workers. We should be adding visas for the high-tech sector. We should be creating a pathway to citizenship. But only Congress can do that.”

The president said he received many letters from Americans urging him not to take these actions.

“There are folks who are good, decent people who are worried about immigration,” he said. “They’re worried that it changes the fabric of our country. They’re worried about whether immigrants take jobs from hard-working Americans. And they’re worried because they’re feeling a lot of economic stress and they feel as if maybe they’re the ones paying taxes and nobody else is taking responsibility. So they’ve urged me not to act. And I hear them, and I understand them.”

But Mr. Obama said he also received messages from people “reminding me why we had to act.”

“From American family members of hard-working immigrants who fear their families could be torn apart,” he said. “From dreamers, who had proudly stepped out of the shadows and were willing to live without fear, even though it was a big risk for them. From Republicans, who don’t agree with me on anything but are tired of their party refusing to vote on reform.

“We didn’t raise the Statue of Liberty with her back to the world. We did it with her light shining as a beacon to the world,” he said.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide