21 November, 2014
Republican Party lawmakers are promising to fight President Barack Obama's executive order on immigration. The order protects millions of people who have been living in the United States illegally. The president's announcement immediately angered Republicans in the U.S. Congress.
The order temporarily blocks expulsion of some undocumented immigrants from the United States and gives them work permits. But the immigrants must have been living in the country longer than five years. They also must pass a criminal investigation and have U.S.-born children.
Republicans were angry about the move even before President Obama made the official announcement. They say the president should not have acted alone. They say the Constitution requires Congress to pass laws – not the president.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, will become the powerful Senate Majority Leader in January. That is because Republicans won control of the Senate in recent elections. Senator McConnell accused the president of ignoring those election results.
"If President Obama acts in defiance of the people and imposes his will on the country, Congress will act. We're considering a variety of options. But make no mistake. Make no mistake. When the newly elected representatives of the people take their seats, they will act."
A number of Republicans accused Mr. Obama of preparing an illegal amnesty and abusing his presidential powers. Among them is John Cornyn, a U.S. Senator from the state of Texas, which borders on Mexico.
"Now I can understand that he (Mr. Obama) can prioritize prosecution and deportation, and he has. But where does the president get the authority to issue work permits for millions of people? "
But a number of Democratic Party lawmakers praised the president for what they termed his courage. They said he is supporting family values by stopping families from being torn apart.
Senator Dick Durbin is a Democrat from Illinois. He rejected charges that the executive order is amnesty.
"Doing nothing, leaving the current system in place, is amnesty. What the president is calling for is accountability."
In his speech to the nation, the president said what he is describing in the executive order is a common-sense approach. Congressional expert Thomas Mann does not think there is much Republicans can do to fight the order.
"The only way they can undo these orders in a practical way is to win the next presidential election. If they win it, their president can withdraw those executive orders, and if the party wants to go with that position, they can."
James Thurber teaches at the American University in Washington, D.C. He has written about Congress and the presidency.
"He obviously is thinking, ‘Well, the Republicans have not done anything. They probably will not do anything. I'm going to get criticized for this anyway. But I want to do the right thing. It will be part of my legacy."
Many Hispanic Americans are welcoming the executive order. Twenty-three-year-old Diana Ramos was born in Mexico. She says the action will help her parents. They lack legal permission to live in the United States. But they have children who were born here.
"This brings a lot of hope for my family that we won't have to live with fear anymore."
Texas has a large Hispanic population. In Houston, Jesus Mejia says he is pleased with the president. Mr. Mejia is an immigrant from Guatemala. He says it is humane to understand the situation of a migrant who came to the United States because of necessity.
Teresa is a U.S. citizen who came from Ecuador. She says President Obama is delaying lasting immigration reform by not working with Congress. She says the president and Congress should both agree to produce a helpful plan. And she worries about migrants who might be criminals staying in the U.S.
I'm Jonathan Evans.
*This report was based on stories from VOA reporters Cindy Saine, Carolyn Presutti and Mike O'Sullivan. Jeri Watson wrote the story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
executive – adj., responsible for making sure laws are carried out and for managing the affairs of a nation or state
immigration – n., coming to a country to live
impose – v., to establish or create something unwanted in a forceful or harmful way
options – n., the opportunity or ability to choose something or to choose between two or more things
amnesty – n., a decision that a group of people will not be punished or that prisoners will be allowed to go free
prioritize – v., to organize (things ) so that the most important thing is done or dealt with first
prosecution – n., the act or process of holding a trial against a person who is accused of a crime to see if that person if guilty
deportation – n., the forcing of a person who is not a citizen to leave the country
accountability – n., the requirement to explain action or decisions to someone
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