Immigration
June 5, 2015
Can a federal immigration overhaul ever gather momentum?

The two political parties appear to be moving farther apart than ever on immigration issues. President Obama and other Democrats want to offer people who entered this country illegally more protections and perhaps benefits. Republicans are more mixed on the issue, but most members of the GOP want to toughen border security and enforcement of immigration law. They claim, in fact, that Obama has far exceeded his authority on the issue. Meanwhile, even as the debate remains rancorous, the number of immigrants has stagnated. China and India now send more newcomers to the United States than Mexico, but the nation faced a crisis last year with unaccompanied children from Central America arriving by the thousands.

Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, speaks in Washington on Dec. 3, 2014, at a rally for opponents of President Obama’s executive actions to provide new or expanded protections from deportation for immigrants who entered the country illegally. A federal judge in Texas has put the president’s executive actions on hold. (Getty Images/The Washington Post/Bill O’Leary)   Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, speaks in Washington on Dec. 3, 2014, at a rally for opponents of President Obama’s executive actions to provide new or expanded protections from deportation for immigrants who entered the country illegally. A federal judge in Texas has put the president’s executive actions on hold. (Getty Images/The Washington Post/Bill O’Leary)

After years of debate about how to deal with the nation’s millions of undocumented immigrants, the issue remains intractable. Last November, President Obama sought to bring millions of people in the country illegally “out of the shadows.” Using an executive order, he attempted to change immigration policy to provide them with protection from deportation. 1

However, a federal judge placed those changes on hold until a lawsuit challenging the executive action, filed by 26 states, is adjudicated. That case is still pending, but Republicans remain irate over what they view as Obama’s “executive amnesty.” Congressional Republicans twice sought to block Obama’s action through legislation earlier this year but found that they lacked the votes to overcome Democratic resistance in the Senate. “Unfortunately, the fight was never won in the other chamber,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in March. “Democrats stayed united and blocked our bill, and our Republican colleagues in the Senate never found a way to win this fight.” 2

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