A recent Politico article quoted Representative Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) as rating Barack Obama with a B+ for his efforts on immigration in his two terms as president so far.
Rep. Sanchez is the newest chairwoman for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, so her statement is on good authority, but what are the elements that make up Obama’s impact on immigration reform? Where could the president have improved?
First of all, it should be mentioned that it’s pretty commendable that he did anything at all. Many Republicans are completely resistant to any sort of legislation or action on the issue of immigration reform. This has been true for at least a decade too. Republicans were responsible for the failure of the DREAM Act, a piece of legislation that would have legalized young undocumented immigrants in the United States and allowed them to come out of the shadows of dubious immigration status and contribute to the society to which they belonged.
So, with the course of actual legislation out of the question (legislation through Congress is really, the only way that any sort of comprehensive immigration reform can be passed) the president had to look into other options.
In particular, he chose to take the route of executive orders. Executive orders have been around for a very long time. Almost every president has used them to change the way that certain laws are enforced. It is truly a part of the president’s job.
So far, Obama has issued a number of executive orders, most recently in November of 2014, which created the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents) programs.
While these programs aren’t perfect or complete, they truly are the best that the president could do with what he has at his disposal.