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Don’t Worry About Signing up for Obama’s Immigration Plan
Since The President announced his immigration plan, I have talked to lots of people who are concerned about signing up for the President’s Immigration plan. They’re concerned about a ‘temporary’ deferral of deportation. They feel that they will set themselves up to be deported once that deferral runs out. Most of the concerns I hear from people stem from all the news stories that came out about Congress complaining about the President’s action. People feel that Congress is going to pass a law to take away the program or that a new President will do the same once Obama is out of office. While there is a clear logic that flows through this thinking, it is far from the most possible outcome. In fact, it’s much more likely that this program won’t go away and will instead provide for an immense level of security for its applicants.
Why Congressional Republicans aren’t going to stop the Program
Congressional Republicans claim that (among other things) the President is acting outside of his authority as a president or that he is ignoring laws that Congress has drafted. As I explained before, the President’s plan takes the form of an Executive Order. This means that the President has taken an area of the law that Congress has given him some wiggle room to move in –in this case, that there are over 11 million illegal immigrants but only the funds to deport 400,000 a year– and has decided how to allocate his limited resources. What the Congressional Republicans want to do is to cut off funds from immigration services related to the President’s changes. Remember basic civics: The House of Representatives controls where money goes in the Federal Government, right? So shouldn’t that plan work?
That didn’t work. What the Republicans in the House of Representatives quickly found out is that Immigration is generally funded by collecting application fees, not from allocations from Congress like most other government programs are. Instead, all the House can do is pass a bill expressing their anger, which was promptly ignored by the Democratically Controlled Senate; just like it has done for the last 4 years when the House gives it something they don’t like. So in summation: Congress can’t do anything as long as the Senate opposes what they do.
Why next year’s Congress (House AND Senate) can’t stop the Program
“But wait!”, you might be saying, “Didn’t the Republicans win the latest elections? They picked up a bunch of Senate seats. Won’t they be in charge of all of Congress in January? They’ll be able to pass a bill eliminating the Program then!”
You are right, but you are also forgetting the most powerful tool Obama has in his pocket: his veto power. Here’s another refresher from civics: The President has the power to sign a bill into law. If he doesn’t like a bill that came from Congress, he can veto it, which sends the bill back to Congress. At that point, Congress can only over come the veto by passing the same bill with 2/3rds of Congress approving it.
Next year Congress could pass a bill that changes how immigration works. They can write a bill that takes away the fees from immigration, or changes how they get money, or really whatever they want. The Republicans will be in charge of both Chambers. But as long as the bill they pass threatens Obama’s signature immigration proposal, he will veto it. It makes no sense for him to sign a bill that takes his program away. And when it goes back to Congress due to the veto, the Republican- led body will need the help of some Democrats to reach that 2/3rd level. They just don’t have the numbers to do so otherwise. And since Democrats are huge supporters of immigration reform, they won’t agree to gut their President’s most important proposal since the Affordable Care Act. It just won’t happen.
So as long as Obama is President, his program won’t be going away. That’s already 2 more years where the program is safe.
Why the next President isn’t going to stop the Program, Democrat or Republican
“Well fine, Matthew” You reply, “But what about the next president? How can I be safe if the next one is opposed to immigration?”
I’d first say that you’re savvy enough to see that not all candidates are created equal in relation to immigration. It almost goes without saying that if the next President is a democrat then the Program is safe. President Clinton (or Warren, or Webb, or really any of them) will not take the program away for two reasons: They would be a supporter of the plan already, and more importantly they will have relied on the votes of legal immigrants to get into the White House. The coalition of voters that Obama has put together is more diverse and open to immigration than the one the Republicans have used for the last few cycles. They know how well the Program polls in their supporting groups, and they can keep up that support by keeping the program up.
Now the more interesting question is this: What happens if a Republican is elected President? “Surely a Republican President with a (likely) Republican Congress will overturn Obama’s Proposal!”
No. In fact, it’s far from likely at all, because we won’t have a Republican President unless enough immigrants choose to vote for him. And for them to do that, they’ll need to believe that the potential Republican President won’t take their deferrals away.
This bold prediction is based on some basic demographics: Republicans have been elected largely by older, whiter, less- into- immigrant- rights types of voters. But every cycle, this group of voters shrinks while the Democrat’s coalition grows. Democrats have the overwhelming support of immigrants, people of color, and a sizable share of the white vote, and their coalition grows relative to the GOP’s by about 2% each cycle. Obama has been able to defeat his Republican opponent handily because of the strength of this coalition, and it’s going to keep getting stronger.
Now coupled with this is that the Electoral College (how the US picks it’s President) is stacked against the GOP because their coalition lives in states that won’t give enough Electors to the candidate to win outright. The only way for the GOP candidate to win the white house is for them to break out of this rut his party is in. One way to do that is to appeal to immigrants. Jeb Bush is known for doing this exact thing. And if he or another candidate appealing to immigrants win, he’s going to preserve the previous system (which includes Obama’s program!), or else he risks losing his job as President at the next election.
It bears saying again: A Republican Presidential Candidate is not going to win unless he gets some votes from immigrants. He is not going to get those votes if he campaigns on taking away Obama’s program. It just. Won’t. Happen.
Anyone that signs up for the President’s program is going to be safe. Congress can’t take it away without the help of the President. Obama won’t agree to have it taken away, and the next President won’t either because he or she used promised to keep the applicants safe in order to secure the votes of their friends and family.
In the mean time, those that do sign up for the program will have protections they haven’t been able to get in the past, will be able to work with a clean conscience and can stop looking over their shoulders, afraid of being deported at any moment. The program is safe and it will be around for a long time.
Contact an immigration lawyer today and ask them if they will be able to help you apply for the President’s Program.