NLC Responds to Obama Immigration Executive Order

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In his Thursday speech to the nation, President Barack Obama announced that he is issuing an Executive Order on Immigration -- a rule issued by the president to an executive branch of the government and having the force of law – that is designed to protect up to five million undocumented immigrants from deportation and to provide as many as four million undocumented immigrants with work permits.  The Executive Order falls short of issuing undocumented immigrants so-called “Green Cards,” or permanent legal status. 

The Executive Order, which Mr. Obama issued because of Congress’s failure to pass a comprehensive immigration bill, has divided Congress along partisan lines, with some calling for Mr. Obama’s impeachment, and others warning of civil unrest in response.

NLC issued a statement Thursday evening and held a press briefing Friday supporting the Executive Order, stating that the Executive Order on Immigration represents a major step toward the kind of immigration reform the nation needs. NLC also expressed hope that the President’s initiative would spur Congress to move more rapidly to pass comprehensive immigration reform. 

Citing current law, and the Constitution as the basis for his actions, Mr. Obama told the nation that his Executive Order, while granting millions the right to stay in this country and work, would not give them access to federal benefits like Medicaid and Food Stamps, or subsidies when purchasing insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. He also said that the right to stay in this country would only be granted if the undocumented immigrant did not have a criminal record and agreed to pay any back taxes owed, and that deportation would focus on” felons, not families”.

Mr. Obama made clear that children of undocumented immigrants, who were born here and are therefore citizens, would be entitled to the same benefits any citizen is entitled to even if their parents are not. In addition, the Executive Order would not necessarily protect the parents of Dreamers (young people brought to the United States at a very young age who have grown up as Americans) from deportation. Like anyone else, they would have to meet the criteria laid out in the Executive Order. 

Over the next days and weeks, NLC will be issuing more information about the Executive Order on Immigration, including how the Order will affect America’s cities and towns.