On Thursday, November 20, 2014, President Obama released his highly anticipated Immigration Accountability Executive Actions, which included deportation relief for parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, as well as an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Executive Actions will also end the highly-controversial Secure Communities program and reprioritize immigration enforcement to focus on real threats to our communities. These changes will provide much-needed relief for millions of migrant families currently suffering under our broken immigration system.
As I said in a statement released last week, these “actions are a significant step in the right direction – promoting family unity and offering vital solutions for our economy and country.” LIRS will continue to work with Congress and the Administration to pass long-term, legislative reforms to our broken immigration system and to end the inhumane practice of family detention.
Several of our partners in the faith-based and migrant rights communities also raised their voices in support of the President’s actions. Rev. John McCullough, President and CEO of Church World Service said in a statement:
We celebrate alongside millions of our immigrant brothers and sisters who will be able to shed the fear of deportation and live anew… As people of faith, we believe in the dignity of all people, in the unity of all families, and in the power of redemption, and that the implementation of this executive action should reflect those values.
Other organizations, however, were critical that the President’s actions did not go far enough. Silky Shah, co-director of the Detention Watch Network, criticized the President’s plan for not addressing the needs of migrants currently caught up in our country’s vast immigration detention system. In her words:
President Obama’s action today to delay the deportation of roughly 4 million undocumented immigrants is an encouraging step that unfortunately does not fully address the glaring human rights violations occurring under his tenure. We are in the midst of a crisis– families are being locked up in jails, the largest detention center in United States history will open by the end of the year, and more than 34,000 people are forcibly detained every night across the U.S. due to the arbitrary detention ‘bed quota.’
Others, like the National Immigration Law Center, released detailed analyses of the Executive Action. Finally, the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security has called for a hearing on December 3, 2014, titled “Open Borders: The Impact of Presidential Amnesty on Border Security” to discuss the impact of the President’s executive action on border security. The Department of Homeland Security’s Secretary Jeh Johnson has been called to testify on the federal response and preparation for this change in policy.
As always, we will keep you updated as we learn more. Please see LIRS’s analysis of the Executive Action. You can also take action through LIRS’s Action Center to urge your elected representatives to stand with the President in supporting family unity and humane enforcement. Thank you for standing for welcome.