Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Two GOP Presidents Extended Amnesty For Immigrants

Republicans are criticizing President Obama for his imminent plan to take unilateral action on immigration and, as always, considering ways to obstruct him. They seem to forget that House Republicans under Speaker John Boehner did nothing after the Senate passed immigration legislation. They also forget that two Republican Presidents, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, extended amnesty to protect immigrants. Somehow, though, it's different when Obama does it:

President Barack Obama's anticipated order that would shield millions of immigrants now living illegally in the U.S. from deportation is not without precedent.

Two of the last three Republican presidents — Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush — did the same thing in extending amnesty to family members who were not covered by the last major overhaul of immigration law in 1986.

There was no political explosion then comparable to the one Republicans are threatening now.

A tea party-influenced GOP is poised to erupt if and when Obama follows through on his promise. He wants to extend protection from deportation to millions of immigrant parents and spouses of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and expand his 2-year-old program that shields immigrants brought illegally to this country as children.

"The audacity of this president to think he can completely destroy the rule of law with the stroke of a pen is unfathomable to me," said GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa, an outspoken opponent of relaxing U.S. immigration law. "It is unconstitutional, it is cynical, and it violates the will of the American people."

Such strong feelings are common among congressional Republicans. GOP leaders warn that an executive order from Obama would "poison the well" and severely damage Republicans' willingness to work with the president during his final two years in office.

Some Republicans have even raised the possibility of impeachment.

Nearly three decades ago, there was barely a peep when Reagan and Bush used their authority to extend amnesty to the spouses and minor children of immigrants covered by the 1986 law.

..."It's clear that it's fully within [Obama's] legal authority to issue these orders," said Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas. He said Republicans "didn't raise any objections in the past when Republican presidents issued similar orders. This is pure political theater."

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