Having waited for more than a year, U.S. President Barack Obama has decided to act unilaterally on immigration. Obama had supported the immigration action approved by Congress in June 2013, but the Republican Party continuously opposed it. Obama promised to make a decision about immigration during his 2008 election campaign in 2008, and it is the most significant ruling on immigration since action taken in 1986 under Republican President Ronald Reagan.
Today there are approximately 11.3 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., most of whom are from Latin America, particularly Mexico. Obama’s plan would benefit parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who have been in the United States since at least January 1, 2010, and who do not have a criminal record. These immigrants can apply for a work permit and a three-year temporary stay of deportation.
Everybody is anticipating a forceful response by Republicans, who will control both houses of Congress in Jan. 2015. Until yesterday, the Republican Party had not responded to Obama's unilateral action. The Republican Party is facing an internal struggle with its ultraconservative sector known as the Tea Party, which is strongly critical of the government. These ultraconservatives are considering using the budget card to defeat Obama. Some are even demanding that Obama’s action should be tried in court.
In his address to the nation, anticipating Republican opposition, Obama said: “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.” However outraged it may be, the opposition needs to plan its moves if it wants to win the next presidential election in 2016, when the American Latino vote will be decisive.
Immigrants and their children will make up 37 percent of the U.S. population by the middle of this century, the highest percentage in American history. The U.S. has received about 20 million Latin American immigrants since 1965. That is the reason why Hillary Clinton, who many consider to be Obama's successor, is openly encouraging Congress to support action on immigration.