Big and Bold on Immigration

Editorial Board, New York Times, November 14, 2014

President Obama is apparently ready to go big, as he promised, to fix immigration on his own–to use his law-enforcement discretion to spare perhaps five million unauthorized immigrants from deportation. Aides speaking anonymously have told The Times that Mr. Obama is considering some options for executive action that would give parents of children who are citizens or legal residents, as well as people who were brought here illegally as children, temporary legal status and permission to work.

Details are lacking, and praise for presidential action will have to wait until it becomes clear whether the often-too-cautious Mr. Obama goes through with it, and how comprehensive his order is–whether it includes those who have been living here five years, for example, or 10 years and what other hurdles applicants may have to meet to qualify.

Our view on executive action is: the sooner the better, and the bigger the better, because so many have been waiting so long for the unjust immigration system to be repaired, while vast resources have been wasted on deporting needed workers and breaking up families instead of pursuing violent criminals and other security threats.

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{snip} His [Obama’s] adversaries won’t admit it, but they could have–and still could–banish talk of executive action by dusting off a bill, S.744, that has passed the Senate and contains all they have been demanding, starting with a surge of border enforcement.

The president cannot rewrite immigration law. But he does control the enforcement apparatus; no Republicans have complained about his using executive authority to deport more people more quickly than all his predecessors. Using his discretion to focus on deporting violent criminals, terrorists and other threats is not lawlessness. It is his job.

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