Is It Time for Unilateral Action on Immigration?

The recent discovery that tens of thousands of children have been crossing into the country alone and parentless, with large numbers of them being detained and held in centers in border states across the country, has many agreeing that the immigration system as it currently stands simply is not working. But the recent, startling upset in Virginia, where a Tea Party candidate beat House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary has many politicians concerned that immigration reform is a political hot potato they are simply too afraid to handle.

Can the President act alone to make the changes the system needs, or will protesters fighting against immigration make the situation too volatile for anyone — Congress or the President — to fix?

The situation nearly came to a head in California, where protesters fighting against immigration blocked buses that were meant to transfer immigrants from more crowded facilities, forcing the buses to detour. The protesters, who were waving American flags, were egged on by the city’s own mayor.

Not all of the residents of the city believed that the families in the buses should be “Returned to Sender,” as the protest signs so cleverly demanded. Those who were inside had fled from violence in their own country, seeking shelter and safety across the border in America. “I don’t think people in that town should be against little kids,” Juan Silva, 27, a welder in Chula Vista, told CBS Sacramento. “We’re not talking about rapists, we’re talking about human beings. How would they feel if it was their kids?”

That detention centers in states like Texas simply cannot handle more immigrants fleeing their home isn’t in question. A recent Texas Tribune report details the conditions in centers in the state, which are trying to cope with the flow of people entering the country and being detained, often for deportation back home. “Politics are left at the door at McAllen’s Sacred Heart Catholic Church, a border parish where more than a thousand of the recently detained migrants, many fleeing violence in their countries, have been taken for temporary food and shelter after being ordered to appear in immigration court,” reports Julian Aguilar. “Volunteers here help arrange medical appointments for immigrants being released from detention, and prepare travel bags for those facing long bus rides to stay with friends and relatives in the United States while awaiting their court dates in places like Chicago, Miami, New York and Miami. Most of the immigrants are women traveling with young children, including infants wearing nothing but diapers after days in detention.”

The question everyone is asking, of course, is what can be done? Getting congressional agreement on any policy plank is nearly impossible these days, and on something as divisive as immigration would be an actual miracle. Too many conservatives remain convinced that any sign of help for the struggling population in the detention centers is an open invitation for more people to enter the country illegally, and going as far as to actually offer more amnesty or a pathway to citizenship, although logical, just and compassionate, would of course be completely unthinkable to them.

That leaves little in the way of options, except unilateral action from President Barack Obama himself. Even there, his power is limited. Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner has already vowed to sue the President for using executive orders, which could potentially curb Obama’s desire to take that route. Still, small incremental assistance, such as more aid to groups working with immigrants along the borders, increasing border patrols and national guard presence and even allowing some children to stay in the country to finish schooling not only may be too little to help, but it will still be enough to anger the anti-immigration wing, without much in the way of real benefits to justify them.

In reality, the situation cannot be addressed without real immigration reform, and that cannot happen as long as the GOP is paralyzed in fear of the anti-immigration wing of their party.  No true change will come until at least November and, depending on the results of the midterms, it may be even longer of a wait than that.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

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Billie C.
Billie C.about a year ago

seal the boarder and then we will talk about any reforms that might be needed. why bother when obama just ignores the laws on the books and makes things worse.
our boarder agents aren't even on the boarder the ones that aren't changing diapers are
50 miles in away from the boarder. when did we give up a line 50 miles in of our country?
take it back and stop the flood. ship them back change their countries via taking away aide to pay for it. after that we get the ones already loose in our country out.
obama and his fools are giving our country away to the dregs of other countries and expect us to pay for it.

S. h.
S. h.about a year ago


Brian Foster
Brian F.about a year ago

If Obama would modify his immigration reform bill, and not give amnesty to 12 million illegal aliens, who broke the law, and snuck into the country, the republicans could sign it. Reagan gave amnesty to 2 million illegal aliens in 1986, and it only increased illegal immigration. Amnesty will never solve our illegal immigration problems. Only tough laws that make illegal immigration a felony like Mexico has, will stem the tide, of illegal aliens invading our country. Obama should stop blaming republicans for refusing to work with him on an amnesty bill, and modify his immigration reform bill so that criminal illegal aliens who broke the law, are not given amnesty. Then the republicans will get on board, and we can pass immigration reform.

Bill Eagle
Bill Eagleabout a year ago

Since Congress refuses to pass a meaningful immigration bill, something needs to be done. If Congress won't act, then the President needs to do something.

Maria Teresa Schollhorn
Maria Teresa Schollhornabout a year ago

Thanke you.

Janet B.
Janet B.about a year ago


Frank S.
Past Member about a year ago

Anteater Ants
Viewing your profile and seeing your age of 16...if in fact you are 16.......your lack of knowledge comes as no surprise.
Approximately much less than half of all illegal aliens are Mexican, the rest are coming from all walks of life and different countries and YES even West Africa.

I am very sorry that you and all of us are stuck growing up in a world which is riddled with conflict everywhere you turn.

Always remember one key factor.....know right from wrong....always seek the truth ....and most of all believe in yourself

This is the world we were left, how you choose to correct it is totally up to you

Anteater Ants
Anteater Antsabout a year ago

Or, maybe the jokes about Americans' knowledge are true and Frank does think that Mexico lies in Africa?

Anteater Ants
Anteater Antsabout a year ago

Frank, is the Ebola virus present in Mexico or in Africa?????

Janis K.
Janis K.about a year ago

Thanks for sharing