Statement on Obama's executive action

President Obama just announce an historic change to our country’s immigration system, achieved by executive action. The directives contained a number of components that will strengthen our border and national security, ensure that our enforcement resources are used to go after felons and not families, and give close to 5 million people the chance to come out of the shadows and gain temporary legal status in the United States, and keep families together, ensuring stronger communities.

 The main components of the plan include:

  • A new deferred action program for 4.1 million immigrants who have been in the country for at least 5 years and have citizen or permanent resident children;
  • An expansion of the DACA program to remove the age cap and move up the year of arrival for eligibility, which will cover 300,000 more Dreamers; and
  • Changes to our enforcement priorities to focus on terrorists, national security threats, and other serious offenders first and foremost. 

“I am very excited about the announcement!” said Zhenia Martinez, a leader with the organizing group Action NC.  “Immigrants work hard and have built this country. They too deserve a chance at their American Dream. But, the fight does not end there. Though millions of families will potentially benefit from this announcement, we will continue pushing for a comprehensive immigration reform that will keep more families together.”

While executive action is no substitute for long overdue legislation, the President has drawn a line in the sand, using well-established legal authority, and began setting into motion significant and meaningful change for immigration policy in the United States.

 “Anyone opposed to the President’s action tonight is in favor of the status quo,” said Kevin Rogers, Policy for Director for Action NC, a community group in favor of immigration reform. “The President has full legal authority to act, and a clear historical precedent to take steps to improve our broken immigration system. Over the past 60 years, executive actions have been taken by every President, from Dwight Eisenhower to JFK to Ronald Reagan to George Bush to Barack Obama, a total of 39 times. Tonight is simply another example of the exercise of this power,” said Rogers.

 “We have waited for this moment for a very long time,” said Oliver Merino of Dream Organizing Network (DON). “When I received DACA, it was a very bittersweet moment, because I knew my parents did not qualify. Now President Obama has the opportunity to provide relief for millions of families. We know that not everyone will qualify, and we must keep fighting in order to keep families together,” said Merino. “The GOP spent this entire year saying NO to the best chance at reform in a generation, and since the summer have only lurched further to the right. The only humane option to our immigration crisis is for the President to act as soon as possible.”

Dream Organizing Network, Action NC, and the International House held a watch party of the President’s speech this evening.