Barack Obama on Immigration

Last Updated : Oct 04, 2012

Summary

President Obama is a strong supporter of amnesty for illegal aliens. As a Senator, he voted in support of numerous measures to provide citizenship to illegal aliens and co-sponsored legislation to ensure they received medical benefits. As President, Mr Obama has taken extraordinary steps to prevent the enforcement of immigration laws.

The steps taken by the Obama administration include preventing the use of E-Verify and other systems to identify illegal aliens for employers, halting raids on employers, and a series of rules changes designed to make it harder to enforce immigration laws and easier to remain in the US. The Obama administration has also brought lawsuits against all states that attempted to enforce immigration laws, including lawsuits against Arizona, Oklahoma, Missouri, Utah, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Indiana. The reason for these lawsuits was that immigration was a federal law and the US could not be a patchwork of varying immigration laws. The Obama administration has made no effort to reign in "sanctuary cities" that declare that immigration laws do not apply there.

Record as Senator

While in office, Senator Obama voted in favor of the DREAM Act, in favor of a comprehensive immigration plan to grant amnesty to illegal aliens in 2006 and 2007, and in favor of a measure to protect sanctuary cities. He also co-sponsored the DREAM Act in both sessions of Congress he served and co-sponsored a bill to repeal an amendment that required documentation evidencing citizenship or nationality as a condition for receipt of medical assistance under the Medicaid program.

In support of the 2007 Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill, Senator Obama spoke on the Senate floor discussing his overall views. In that speech, he noted his desire to see all aliens within the US granted a path to citizenship.

2008 Presidential Campaign

Senator Obama's plan to address immigration if elected consisted of four main topics: secure the border, remove incentives to enter illegally, fix the broken bureacracy, and work with Mexico to create jobs there. Included within these topics was the passage of comprehensive reform to grant citizenship to illegal aliens.

Throughout the presidential campaign, Senator Obama expressed strong support for amnesty, coupled with securing the borders and removing incentives by enforcing penalties on employers who hire illegal aliens. The plan for granting citizenship included having them register, pay a fine, pay back taxes, and learn english. In numerous speeches and debates, Senator Obama spoke about his plan and his desire to see illegal immigrants receive citizenship, the need to secure the border, and the need to clamp down on employers who hire illegal immigrants.

In separate debates, Senator Obama was asked if he supported english as the national language and if he supported drivers licenses for illegal aliens. In both debates, he was unwilling to answer succinctly until prodded by the moderator both times. Eventually, he stated that he supported licenses and opposed designating english as the national language.

Appointments as President

After assuming office, President Obama appointed Congresswoman Hilda Solis as Labor Secretary and Celia Munoz as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. Both of these women have strong pro-amnesty histories with affiliations with groups such as the National Council of La Raza (The Race).

The Stimulus

One of the first pieces of legislation passed after President Obama assumed office was the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as the Stimulus. This legislation originally contained a provision to require the use of E-Verify for recepients of grants to ensure that the people working for those companies are US citizens. That wording was removed from the final version of the text.

E-Verify and No-Match

In July of 2009, the Obama administration decided that it would require businesses that win federal contracts to use a government electronic database system called E-Verify to verify that their employees have legal immigration status to work in the United States. The administration had been reviewing the system since coming into office

In 2007, the Bush administration began sending letters to employers who filed social security numbers for employees that did not match any legitimate number. The letters went along with other pressure for that employer to fire employees that have given those numbers. In July of 2009, the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement noting that it would no longer follow those rules.

287(g) Program

In July of 2009, the Obama administration issued new guidelines to allow local police officers to check immigration status only on immigrants arrested for violent crimes such as rape and burglary, and major drug offenses. The program known as 287(g) allows local law enforcement to check immigration status for those already arrested for a crime. Its name comes from the section of the law that created the authority.

The Health Care Debate

In September of 2009, President Obama was asked about whether or not illegal aliens would be covered in health care reform packages. In asserting that they would not be covered, President Obama also stated that this was more reason to legalize those people so that they could be part of the system.

Detainers Changes

In December of 2011, the Obama administration made changes to rules regarding detaining people arrested for a crime if the local police believe that they are illegal aliens. Under the new rules, ICE could choose to enact the detainer order only after the person was convicted of the crime, instead of upon arrest. This meant that illegal aliens arrested for violent crimes could have a chance to flee if ICE chose not to accept that person into custody until after their conviction. The new rules also created a hotline that those arrested could call if they believe that they are being treated illegally or they are in fact US citizens.

Waivers Rules Change

In January of 2012, the US citizenship and immigration services changed rules relating to illegal aliens applying for a green card. Previously, someone caught in the US illegally would have to return to their home country to apply for a new green card or other legal means of residing in the US. They would also have to wait from 3 to 10 years to reapply. The Obama administration changed these rules to allow someone caught illegally in the US to remain in the country and apply for legal status without having to return home and without the waiting period.

The DREAM Act

In September of 2011, President Obama participated in a round table discussion focusing on hispanic issues. He was repeatedly asked about the DREAM Act with the reporters hinting that he was not being aggressive enough on the law. Eventually the President told the group that the US was a democracy in which laws had to be passed and repealed in Congress. As such he was not given the power to simple deem a law as passed.

In June of 2012, President Obama deemed through ICE and the DHS that certain groups of illegal aliens would be immune from deportation and given a legal right to work within the US for up to two years. The requirements to recieve those deferrments were similar to the DREAM Act and the act was widely regarded as taking the place of that law. Specifically, to receive the deferments and illegal alien must have been 16 or younger when they entered the US, have continuously resided here, be in school or be a graduate, have not been convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanor, and be under the age of 30.

That same day, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano appeared on CNN with Wolf Blitzer and confirmed that although the parents of the children targeted under this move would not receive deferment, mechanisms would be established so that they would not be deported. Thus the new rule allows for any person up to the age of 30 to have their parents remain in the US as well.

Arizona Immigration Lawsuit

In 2010, the State of Arizona passed a law that gave (among other things) local police officers the ability to ask those already arrested for crime about their immigration status. In July of 2010, the Justice Department brought a lawsuit against the state of Arizona to halt the law. In June of 2012, the Supreme Court struck down much of that law, but upheld the provision to allow officers to inquire as to immigration status. In response to the law and the ruling, the Obama administration stated that the US could not be a patchwork of immigration laws and that immigration was a matter for federal law enforcement.

Alabama Immigration Lawsuit

In July of 2010, the state of Alabama passed a law which requires schools to verify students’ immigration status and allows police to determine citizenship and status of those they stop, detain or arrest. That same month, the Obama administration filed a lawsuit against the state to stop its implementation.

 

Employment Verification System

On May 23, 2006 Senator Obama spoke on the floor of the Senate and supported an employer verification system to address the affects of illegal aliens in the work force.

 

Floor Speech - 2007 Comprehensive Immigration Reform

On May 23, 2006 Senator Obama spoke on the Senate floor in support of the 2007 Comprehensive immigration Reform Act. In that speech, he notes his views regarding the need to see all aliens living within the US given citizenship.

 

Boone, Iowa Campaign Rally

At a campaign rally in Boone, Iowa in December of 2007, Senator Obama was asked what his plans were for immigration.  He stated that he would force secure the border and then give those here illegally citizenship.

 

Primary Debate - A Humane Immigration Policy

In a January 2008 primary debate, Senator Obama spoke about immigration and unemployment. He noted that there was large unemployment in the inner cities before the latest round of immigration. He then went on to say that illegal immigrants here in the US undermine wages for workers. He referred to blaming illegal immigrants for high unemployment was scapegoating, but went on to say that not granting citizenship would lead to those same immigrants pushing down the wages of Americans. He supported enforcement of laws against employers that hire those illegal immigrants and a pathway to citizenship for those that came here illegally.

 

Blueprint for Immigration

Senator Obama prepared a series of videos for the 2008 campaign that described his views and plans on a number of issues.  The blueprint for immigration is outlined below:

  • Secure our borderrn
    • Pass comprehensive immigration reform bill
    • Border surveillance
    • Technology Improvements
  • Remove incentives to enter illegallyrn
    • Crack down on employers hiring undocumented workers intentionally
  • Fix broken immigration bureaucracyrn
    • Create a fair and responsible path to citizenship
      • Register
      • Pay a fine
      • Pay back taxes
      • Learn English
      • Legal immigrants have priority
  • Work with Mexicorn
    • Create more jobs

 

Des Moines Register Interview

Early in the primary election, Senator Obama gave an interview with the Des Moines Register where he outlined a three part plan for immigration consisting of border security, a verification and enforcement system on the employer side, and a pathway to citizenship.

 

CNN Debate question - English as official language

In a debate on CNN, Senator Obama was asked if he believed that english should be the official language of the United States.  His response to the question was that it was an invalid question which only serves to divide.

 

CNN Debate question - Driver's Licenses for illegal immigrants 

Again, in a CNN debate, Senator Obama was asked if he would support drivers licenses for illegal aliens and after a great deal of back and forth, he eventually admitted that he supported drivers licenses for illegal aliens.

 

Speech at Immigration rally

At an immigration rally in February 2008, Senator Obama made comments which promised citizenship to illegal aliens and discounted those who advocate for secure borders and immigration law enforcement as fear mongering

 

2008 Campaign Website Statements

At the official website for the Office of the President-Elect - change.gov - a five component plan for immigration is outlined.

 

On the education portion of the website, President Obama cites the need to ensure that people who are in our school system that do not speak english are provided ample access to education.

 

Appointment of Hilda Solis as Labor Secretary

President Obama has appointed Congresswoman (California 32) Hilda Solis as Secretary of Labor.  Secretary Solis's political history makes her very qualified for this position as she was a US Congresswoman from 2001-2009 and a State Senator from 1994-1999.

Secretary Solis has a well documented history of vehement illegal immigration support and has been honored several times by the hispanic supremacy group La Raza (The Race).  As a California State Senator in 1999, she introduced S.B. 371, which would have dropped legal residency requirements to obtain California driver's licenses; the goal was to give drivers licenses to illegal aliens.

 

 

Appointment of Celia Munoz as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs 

On Novemebr 26, 2008, the Washington Post reported that Celia Munoz had been appointed as head of intergovernmental affairs.  The article contained this description of Director Munoz:

"Munoz, meanwhile, will oversee the White House office responsible for relations between the administration and state and local governments. The 2000 MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" winner is a senior vice president at the National Council of La Raza, a leading Hispanic civil rights group. There, she has spearheaded many of the organization's immigration initiatives. Currently, she is in charge of the group's entire advocacy and legislative agenda."

 

Removal of E-Verify requirements from stimulus bill

The initial version of the Stimulus Bill contained language which would require the recipients to use the government E-Verify System to verify that all workers would be verified as US citizens. This text is shown below, but that language was removed from the final version of the bill.

  

Rules Change on No-Match

In 2007, the Bush administration began sending letters to employers who filed social security numbers for employees that did not match any legitimate number. The letters went along with other pressure for that employer to fire employees that have given those numbers. In July of 2009, the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement noting that it would no longer follow those rules.

At the same time, the Obama administration decided that it would require businesses that win federal contracts to use a government electronic database system called E-Verify to verify that their employees have legal immigration status to work in the United States.

 

Rules Change to 287(g) Program

The program known as 287(g) allows local law enforcement to check immigration status for those already arrested for a crime. Its name comes from the section of the law that created the authority. In July of 2009, the Obama administration issued new guidelines to allow for checks only on violent crimes such as rape and burglary, and major drug offenses.

 

Illegal Aliens and Health Care

In September of 2009, President Obama was discussing health care reform and the issue of illegal immigrants and health care was raised several times. When speaking to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, President Obama asserted that illegal aliens would not be covered under new plans but that this was more reason to pass legislaiton to legalize them.

 

Arizona Immigration Law

President Obama's reaction to the 2010 Arizona immigration law is being tracked as a controversy. During numerous speeches about the law, the President noted that his preferred method of solving the illegal immigration problem is to grant amnesty to all illegal aliens through a "comprehensive immigration reform" package.

The President also routinely criticized those who support the enforcement of valid US laws and made numerous false statements concerning the law which included that people would be harassed when they go out to buy ice cream at night. Eventually, the President sued the state of Arizona to challenge the validity of the law, noting that immigration law enforcement was a realm of law relegated to the federal government and not the state.

The lack of enforcement of the law contradicts a statement made by President Obama concerning "don't ask, don't tell." When asked about simply not enforcing the current don't as don't tell policy, the President stated that it was not the right of the executive branch to simply not enforce a congressional law. Yet the President is suing the state of Arizona to ensure that congressional law is not enforced.

In suing the state of Arizona, the President also ignores numerous sanctuary cities that openly contradict US laws. If the President seeks to keep immigration law enforcement at the federal level, he would also seek to prevent cities from enacting measures to prevent their enforcement.

 

Open Questions Hispanic Round Table

In September of 2011, President Obama attended a round table discussion with several members of the left leaning press including MSN Latino, AOL Latino, and HuffPo LatinoVoices. The President was repeatedly asked about pushing for the DREAM Act and pressured to do more to get the law passed. Eventually, the President reminded the board that he could not simply deem a law passed and that it must go through Congress.

 

Rules Change - Detainers and Hotline

In December of 2011, ICE issued new rules for handling illegal aliens that have been arrested for another crime. As part of the rules, any perceived illegal immigrant arrested for a crime must be given a sheet describing their rights and giving them a hotline to call if they are actually a US citizen or they believe that their rights are being violated.

In addition to this, emphasis was placed on the fact that the local police department could only hold people for up to 48 hours, and ICE may choose to make the detainer order active only upon conviction of the crime that the person was arrested for to begin with.

 

Rules Change - Waivers

In January of 2012, the US Citizenship and Immigration services issued new rules for those residing in the US illegally and are being deported. Previously, an illegal immigrant was punished for the time they spent in the US illegally by creating a three year to ten year waiting period before that person was eligible to apply for a green card or legal readmittance to the US. The new rules allow someone who has family legally living in the US legally to apply for a waiver to remain in the US while their status is re-evaluated.

 

Deferred Action Process

On June 15, 2012 the Department of Homeland Security announced that it was enacting a deferred action process for youths of low priority. The essence of this process was that the same group of young people that would be covered under the DREAM Act are granted similar rights without law. For the process to appy to an illegal immigrant, the person must :

  1. Have come to the United States under the age of sixteen;
  2. Have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;
  3. Currently be in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
  4. Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
  5. Not be above the age of thirty.

The process grants the immigrant the right to work within the US and prevents them from being deported. It is valid for two years, and the person must reapply for the deferment at the end of that time. The President spoke about the change later that day at the White House.

 

Napolitano - Blitzer Interview

On the same day that the DHS made the rule changes for the deferred action process, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano spoke with Wolf blitzer on CNN and confirmed that the parents of the children targetted for deferrment would themselves not receive deferment, but that they would not be deported.

 

Voting Record

Funding for Sanctuary Cities

Sactuary cities are those that allow illegal immigrants to reside within their borders with the understanding that the local government with not seek to determine immigration status or enforce the federal mandates concerning immigration. Senator Vitter put forth an amendment to create a reserve fund to hold money that would normally go to these sanctuary cities. On March 13, 2008, a motion was put forth to "table" or remove the amendment from consideration. Virtually all Democrats, and about 1/4 of the Republicans in office agreed to remove the amendment from consideration in a 58-40 vote. Barack Obama voted to table the amendment, and therefore supported the sanctuary city policy.

Barack Obama voted to table the amendment, and therefore supported the sanctuary city policy.

The DREAM Act

When the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill failed to pass, several members of congress attempted to achieve the same goal by passing the individual pieces of legislation that comprised the Reform Package. The DREAM Act was one such piece of legislation that grants citizenship to those that came to this country prior to the age of 16. Although the Bill got some support from both Democrats and Republicans, it too failed to pass the Senate in a 52-44 vote. Barack Obama voted in favor of the DREAM Act.

Barack Obama voted in favor of the DREAM Act.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform

In June of 2007, Congress attempted to pass the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007. The bill iteself was a series of smaller pieces of legislation which established the requisites for people living in the US illegally to obtain amnesty. The bill also sought to grant other rights to illegal immigrants prior to and after they become citizens. Despite a massive Public Relations campaign to promote the legislation, the bill got no Republican support and roughly 2/3 of the support of the Democrats. The bill was rejected in the Senate in a 61-34 vote. Barack Obama voted in favor of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill.

Barack Obama voted in favor of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill.

The Secure Fence Act

The Secure Fence Act passed the Senate in 2006, and required the director of homeland security to take operational control over certain areas along the border in an effort to cut down on both violence and illegal immigration. The enjoyed broad support and passed the Senate in an 80-19 vote. Barack Obama voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act.

Barack Obama voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act.

Immigration Reform Act of 2006

In 2006, the Senate attempted to pass an immigration reform bill. S 2611 passed the Senate in a 62-36 vote with the support of about 40% of the Republicans and all but 4 Democrats. Barack Obama voted in favor of the Immigration Reform Act of 2006.

Barack Obama voted in favor of the Immigration Reform Act of 2006.

 

Sponsored and Cosponsored Legislation

Session-110; Bill Number-S 774; DREAM Act of 2007 - Cosponsor

Amends the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to repeal the denial of an unlawful alien's eligibility for higher education benefits based on state residence unless a U.S. national is similarly eligible without regard to such state residence. Authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to cancel the removal of, and adjust to conditional permanent resident status, an alien who: (1) entered the United States before his or her sixteenth birthday, and has been present in the United States for at least five years immediately preceding enactment of this Act; (2) is a person of good moral character; (3) is not inadmissible or deportable under specified grounds of the Immigration and Nationality Act; (4) at the time of application, has been admitted to an institution of higher education, or has earned a high school or equivalent diploma; and (5) from the age of 16 and older, has never been under a final order of exclusion, deportation, or removal.

Session-109; Bill Number-S 2075; DREAM Act of 2005 - Cosponsor

A bill to amend the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to permit States to determine State residency for higher education purposes and to authorize the cancellation of removal and adjustment of status of certain alien students who are long-term United States residents and who entered the United States as children, and for other purposes.

Session-109; Bill Number-S 2305; Citizenship Documentation and Medicaid Reimbursement - Cosponsor

A bill to amend title XIX of the Social Security Act to repeal the amendments made by the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 requiring documentation evidencing citizenship or nationality as a condition for receipt of medical assistance under the Medicaid program.

References

[1] Website: Fox News Article: Justice Dept. Challenges Arizona Over Other Immigration Law Targeting Employers Author: Jim Angle Accessed on: 06/04/2010

[2] Website: NumbersUSA Article: Obama Administration Weakens 287(g) Author: NA Accessed on: 07/26/2012

[3] Website: Fox News Article: Justice Department Files Suit Against Arizona Immigration Law Author: NA Accessed on: 07/26/2012

[4] Website: Politico Article: Alabama immigration law being challenged by Obama administration Author: MACKENZIE WEINGER Accessed on: 07/26/2012

User Comments