The President should mark the one year anniversary of the implementation of deferred action by expanding it to the rest of our family members. Marco Rubio might warn that Obama could act alone if Congress fails to pass immigration reform. But the truth is that the President to should act now in order to help immigration reform’s chance of passing at all.
Ironically, in a quote being spread widely, Rubio said that Obama could issue “an executive order as he did for the DREAM Act kids a year ago, where he basically legalizes 11 million people by the sign of a pen,” and doing so doesn’t require the intolerable compromises we’ve seen in Congress. Rubio goes on to say, “We won’t get any E-Verify. We won’t get any border security. But he’ll legalize them.”
As someone who’s lived with the fear that comes with being undocumented since I came to the US and continues to live with the worry that my mother could be deported at any moment, hearing the option that Rubio laid out for the President actually sounds pretty good. The question isn’t will the President expand DACA if Congress fails to pass reform. It’s why hasn’t he done it already?
Deferred action, a program that has granted relief from the threat of deportation and legal status to hundreds of thousands of Dream-eligible youth, is neither amnesty nor a new policy invented by Obama. It’s a long-standing form of executive power used as far back as 1971. The fact that Rubio warns against its expansion shows us two things. First, his statement is really a warning that Republicans in the House don’t want to move on anything that recognizes the political equality of the undocumented. And second, he actually highlights the responsibility of the President to take immediate action.
Obama leading on immigration reform and showing that our equality is not to be bargained with is not a last resort after a logjam in Congress but a step that needs to be taken now to prevent it. The militarization that Rubio warns won’t come to fruition is a $46 billion waste that meets the interests of defense contractors but not the American people and not those who want to see the inclusion of the 11 million people who already call the US home.