Republicans and the Conservative Pundits have already come out swinging—threatening impeachment, talking about jailing the president, and worse.
The president’s announcements are big—but not unprecedented.1 In fact, every president since Eisenhower—Republican and Democrat—has taken executive action on immigration. When President George H.W. Bush implemented the Family Fairness Program, it gave opportunities for deferred action and work authorization to 40% of America’s undocumented population.
The president is acting because Congress hasn’t. Leaders of both parties have said our immigration situation is a crisis—yet Republicans in the House have been unwilling or unable to take action. In the summer of 2013, a bipartisan bill passed in the Senate but was killed when House Speaker John Boehner yielded to pressure from his Tea Party members and refused to bring it for a vote. The president, immigration activists, and most Americans want Congress to act—but in the meantime, executive action provides some progress.
1. “Executive action on immigration has a long legal precedent,” MSNBC, November 19, 2014