President Obama recently took several executive actions to alter the US response to illegal immigrants. He tightened border controls. He directed prosecutors and federal administrative agencies to stop deportation proceedings against the parents of young children who are US citizens, and expanded the number of young adults eligible for residency. Collectively, his actions will affect about 5 million of the 11 million people illegally in the US. On a positive note, during the Obama presidency, the number of illegal immigrants entering the US has declined substantially. (For a great chart that summarizes the situation, follow this link. Among my previous Ethical Musings' posts on immigration are Musings about Immigration and Immigration Issues are International.)
Some of my illegal immigrant ancestors (namely, the two who arrived on the Mayflower!) would have probably died without the help of the legal residents, i.e., the Native Americans. Those Native Americans, more than the Christian Pilgrims, actually adhered to the Biblical injunction to welcome the foreigner in one's midst.
The US cannot deport 11 million people. More to the point, few people in the US want to deport all of the 11 million people who are in this country illegally. Most of these 11 million people work hard at manual jobs that few residents would deign to accept. Furthermore, deporting the non-citizen parents of young children who happen to be citizens is a form of cruel and unusual punishment for the children, who themselves are not guilty of any crime.
I am uncomfortable with the growing use of executive action to bypass a stalemated Congress because if unchecked it represents a threat to our democratic governance. Increased reliance on executive action is a bipartisan trend extending over the previous half century.
Nevertheless, I do not fault President Obama for taking actions. The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration law over 500 days before Obama acted; in the interim, the House has not voted the legislation even though a majority supports the legislation because passage would depend upon a majority comprised of Republicans and Democrats rather than only Republicans.
This type of extreme partisanship harms both democracy and people. Once again, I think of my illegal immigrant forebears who survived because Native Americans took action. We should do the same: Welcome the stranger, whether an illegal immigrant or a member of another political party!