Tonight President Obama spoke passionately to the nation about the guidelines of an executive order he will issue to jumpstart the process of immigration reform in this country. He was clear that the steps he outlined tonight do not undermine or preclude the necessary legislative action of Congress, where the most far-reaching work on immigration reform still must be done.
As he so eloquently described, the human cost of the stops, starts and delays of this Congress to overhaul immigration through comprehensive, bipartisan legislation has been too great. Families are being torn apart, children are detained in jails meant to incarcerate and punish. People are being rounded up, and some are deported to countries they have never known. This is no way for a leading nation committed to the principles of democracy to treat human beings. We cannot see ourselves as leaders if we allow the lives of others to literally hang in the balance opposite political ambitions, the prospects of the 2016 election, and concerns about which team scores the most points.
The Senate passed a bi-partisan legislative solution to immigration reform, which was never acted on by the House, despite the bitter protests of the minority who were prepared to debate and pass the bill. History will show that this President has used the power of the executive order far less than any other recent president and that the stubborn resistance to legislative action has forced him to respond with executive authority.
Faced with this humanitarian crisis and legislative impasse, any leader who has the power and the tools to help abate this emergency has a moral obligation to act. This executive order affects not only Latino immigrants from Central and South America, but also European, Caribbean, Asian and African immigrants whose trials are not as widely covered, but are just as damaging. I am glad that President Obama has done what he could to assist 5 million people. Some clear step by this nation toward the resolution of this crisis is long overdue.