WASHINGTON — Last week, President Barack Obama issued an executive order, making changes to immigration reform affecting almost five million undocumented immigrants across the county, and clashing with Republicans in the process.
“Today, our immigration system is broken and everybody knows it,” President Obama said in his televised address.
Republicans and Congress accused the President of overstepping his powers legally. House Speaker, Rep. John Boehner released a video just before President Obama’s televised speech, in which he stated, “The president has said before that ‘he’s not king’ and he’s ‘not an emperor’, but he sure is acting like one.”
Addressing all Republicans who stood against his action, the President responded, “And to those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill.”
There are currently an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. President Obama’s plan is directed towards the families, specifically the close to five million parents of U.S. born citizens and legal permanent residents. Those undocumented residents could legally apply for jobs, but cannot vote or qualify for insurance under the president’s signature new healthcare program. This measure would apply to those who have been in the United States for at last five years. In his speech, President Obama said that the real amnesty here would be “leaving this broken system the way it is.”
Many in the Muslim American community agree with the President’s decision. “We applaud President Obama on taking this small step in the right direction,” said Imad Hamad, acting director of the American Human rights Council (AHRC). “Undocumented immigrants over the years have had their hopes raised then dashed regarding the possibility of a reform of the system that would enable them to stay and work legally in the United States,” he said. Hamad also believes that America cannot lead the world while trying to deport millions of people.
Dr. Abdul Rehman Nakadar is the founder of The Muslim Observer Foundation (disclaimer: he is also the CEO and Publisher of this publication), as well as many other non-profit organizations in India such as the Dr. Nakadar Institute of Knowledge. According to Dr. Nakadar, there are about 450,000 people from the Indian community here in America affected by this policy change. Though “Muslims form an minuscule number of this group,” said Dr. Nakadar.
Following Obama’s speech, the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) released a statement applauding the President’s actions, while also suggesting action could have been taken much sooner. “Over the past decade, the majority of the country has supported immigration reform, all the while our elected officials have politicized the issue. During this time period, millions of individuals have been deported, which means thousands of families have been torn apart because of a broken process,” said ADC President Samer Khalaf.
Officials within the Obama Administration described the President’s actions as the biggest shift in immigration policy since the changes made by President Reagan in 1986.