Imminent Confrontation

It appears that President Barack Obama will actually take the necessary steps to amend, as far as the Constitution allows him, obsolete immigration law. A few days ago, he warned the Republican majority in Congress that if it did not fulfill its obligation to legislate on the dysfunctional immigration system and approve a reform that, in essence, contains the necessary elements to give immigration status to millions of undocumented workers, he would do it through executive order.

For months, the Republican majority in the House of Representatives has systematically refused to discuss the reform that the Senate approved and sent to the House for consideration. Only once did the entire House discuss proposed reform, and then, without further action, it was undone. At the same time during that period, healthcare reform was discussed on more than 50 occasions, with the ultimate result of imposing limits on the extent of reform.

The president waited for the recent elections to take place before making his decision, in response to a number of candidates who pressured him to postpone the move in fear of losing the Nov. 4 midterm elections. The elections now past, the president has determined that the moment is here for him to act and fulfill his obligation to correct those provisions that primarily affect immigrant families, and open the door to five million undocumented workers seeking residency. Some 3.5 million of these workers are parents who would avoid separation from their children; children who have U.S. citizenship and for whom separation has ruined many of their families.

As expected, the Republican leaders responded that Obama would “burn himself” if he proceeded in this manner. Emboldened after their election victory, Republicans have stated they will do everything possible to stop the president from achieving his purpose. Some have even threatened to shut down the government and impeach the president.

Willingly or not, Obama’s actions will win support for the Democrats of those who have fought so their parents, siblings and friends can be granted immigration status. Since Obama’s executive order can only be reversed by the next president, Obama will secure millions of votes that will benefit the Democratic presidential candidate in 2016.

This and other sources of discord between the two governing political forces will create political tension in the United States. Approving the budget, the Republicans’ insistence on reversing healthcare reform and the move to send additional troops to the Middle East will all be subject to confrontation. The outcome could cause a breakdown in the conduct of the country’s leaders, the consequences of which are difficult to guess, but which may further polarize American society. One way or another, this may affect relations with Mexico.

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