Editorial: Do immigration reform right


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With the midterm elections over, Obama is moving on several issues he put off until after the dust from this election cycle cleared. After climate change, the next one at the top of his list is immigration reform.

Obama has made it clear that he will use unilateral action to implement immigration reform. His sidestepping of the incoming Republican Congress has caused a stir in the GOP. Soon to be head of the Senate Budget Committee Sen. Jeff Sessions has proposed using the federal budget to undermine any executive orders made by the president, according to Reuters.

Sessions is not alone. In the House, Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., has garnered the signatures of 50 representatives supporting budget cuts aimed to disable the executive office’s powers. There have even been murmurs of a possible government-shutdown standoff, though this is less likely, because the popularity of the new Republican members of Congress would more than likely plummet, as Congress’ did in December 2013.

Immigration reforms were expected to be a bipartisan issue, with some leeway possible, and Obama’s swift action is jeopardizing further cooperation between Congress and the White House. How much cooperation will occur has yet to be seen, and if the past is an indicator, there are rough waters ahead.

Whether through executive order or congressional bill, immigration reform is desperately needed. An estimated 11.7 million illegal immigrants live in the United States, according to the State Department. Turning them into registered citizens would grow the tax base substantially, and the role of immigration agents would shift dramatically. This is understandably worrisome to the GOP, as a Democratic president giving citizenship to a large voter base that typically votes Democrat is detrimental to their position of power in Washington.

As soon as Nov. 17, the president may enact immigration reform through an executive order. This urgency is to prevent a congressional monetary intervention. The GOP believes this to be against the will of the American people, but it is hard to say. Voter turnout was at its worse in 72 years, with only a third of eligible Americans showing up to vote. With this sort of inaction by the American people, it is much harder to say definitively what the majority wants. Still, the potential harm to the relationship between the executive and legislative branches is substantial, and if Obama takes this action, it would be by no means democratic.

It is the position of the Daily Iowan Editorial Board that communication among the branches of government is the best way to move forward on immigration. An executive order may bring about needed change quickly, but by not giving Congress a chance to work constructively, much input is left out, and Congress will be less likely to work alongside the president’s goals in the future.

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