Tomorrow night (Thursday, November 20, 2014) at 8PM, the President of the United States will address the nation to announce what steps his administration intends to take to reform U.S. immigration law and policy. This announcement represents the culmination of the President’s evolution on his authority as the nation’s chief executive. In June 2014, when it became clear that the House of Representatives would not take up the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate, the President made a statement that he would take administrative action to ameliorate the harsh effects of our immigration law.
A couple of months ago, I got to enjoy my fifteen minutes of fame when my client became the poster child for problems caused for immigrants in immigration court by the government shutdown. I wrote a blog piece, wrote another for the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association and, next thing I know, I am speaking to Robert Siegel of NPR’s All Things Considered and people I have not heard from in decades called me to say they heard me on the radio.
On this President’s Day, we wish to add a historical perspective to the robust exercise of executive authority. The President routinely tells audiences that he does not have the power to act unilaterally on immigration reform. Frustration and anger have mounted as the toll from deportations rises, and the lost opportunities due to the lack of immigration reform are compiled. The President’s claim of impotency is in direct conflict with how the right wing of the GOP (is there another wing?) sees the President.
Looking back on what turned out to be a disappointing 2013 for the lack of progress on meaningful immigration reform and on the continuing pace of removals, we have tried to figure out what articles and stories most appealed to our readers. Turns out that our readers were not as interested in the minute-by-minute accounts of progress, but rather came to Lifted Lamp for information about developments in the law that had a real impact upon their lives.
As official Washington administers last rites to immigration reform for 2013 only to have it pop up again with a barely detectable pulse, undocumented immigrants and their allies continue to press the President to use his power as the executive to suspend removals. Marches, sit-ins, hunger strikes, and social media combat for #notonemore deportation have reached a fever pitch as the House seems to be putting the last nail in the coffin for the comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in June.