Explaining Obama's Immigration Reform Plan

Monday, June 18, 2012

Don Lyster, Washington, D.C. director of the National Immigration Law Center, and Allan Wernick, professor of law at Baruch College and director of CUNY Citizenship Now!, discuss the effect of the Obama administration's immigration changes announced last Friday. Plus, journalist and an immigrant himself, Jose Antonio Vargas checks in with his reaction and discusses his Time Magazine cover story this week.


Don Lyster, Jose Antonio Vargas and Allan Wernick

Comments [43]

David from Fredericksburg, VA

@ sophia

Bush "only" greatly expanded on a process that has been under way since WWII. Now Obama continues the process.

AMERICANS need to be sounding the alarm bells - on BOTH parties.

Jun. 18 2012 01:25 PM

@David from Fredricksburg.

The alarm bell against executive over reach and executive orders was one that conservatives should have rung during the Bush administration, instead of pretending the precedent was set by Obama.

One of the many precedents Bush broke was the American refusal to torture, which was present since our founding. Something which deserves the level of outrage ginned up for this.

Jun. 18 2012 12:30 PM
Calls'em from McLean, VA

(1) Why does CUNY spend taxpayer money on illegal aliens? This is scandal. Why does WNYC continue to endorse illegal activities?
(2) The President's EO is "ultra vires." He CAN NOT order an agency to stop enforcing a law that was passed by Congress and signed into law by a President. EO's can fill in gaps and deal with non-legislated areas that are otherwise constitutional. 0bama & H0lder have operated unlawfully and un-Constitutionally on numerous occasions.
(3) 0bama made this announcement to deflect from his failed promises and failed Presidency. He is expecting the Supreme Court to overturn 0bamaCare any day now and wanted to change the conversation.
(4) 0bama is a hypocrite. The "left" and Latino voters are angrier at 0bama, than moderates and the right. Minority unemployment among citizens is 2 & 3 times higher than the Nat’l average. Black and Latino citizens should be 100% against this proposal. If 0bama really cared about this issue or any other issues that he has lied about, he could have passed the Dream Act and any other law when he had a Super Majority in Congress 2008-2010.
(5) Jose Antonio Vargas completely misstated the law on employment - illegal aliens can not legally be "independent contractors" or legally have social security numbers. These people either work under stolen SS#s or apply for Tax-payer ID#s. This number gives them NO legal status. He is breaking the law as such, several laws in fact. He needs to be picked up by INS and probably will be after this interview.
(6) Once again I had to check the calendar to make sure today wasn't April 1st.

Jun. 18 2012 11:34 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Actually, I also wonder about the other age limit. Why 16 & not 18?

Jun. 18 2012 11:28 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@ meatwnyc

Actually, both parties are being cynical. The democrats want to open the floodgates - they figure it'll boost voters for them. The republicans are all for serfdom for workers in America. Loading the country up with illegals is speeding up the process greatly.

If I hear one more time that illegals only take the jobs Americans don't want, I'm going to puke. They're taking jobs that Americans would do for a decent wage, construction, for example.

Also, I'm not demonizing illegals - they just want a better life. However, bad intentions are not a neccesary ingredient for bad outcomes.

I am very pessimistic about the future of this country.

Jun. 18 2012 11:27 AM

To fuva:

I think some of the economic benefits in tax paid and low prices are under-appreciated in the whole immigration argument, as well as some of the demand they create in the rental market and for consumer products. But...

I think we largely agree on the important point, which is if the GOP is serious about this issue, take on the providers and profiters, being the businesses employing them. Instead I think they use it as an issue to gains points while like you said, they still benefit from them.

Jun. 18 2012 11:19 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@ sophia

"Executive orders and Unitary Executive ring a bell?"

Yes, it does ring a bell - an ALARM bell.

Jun. 18 2012 11:17 AM
Paul from New York city

I wanted to ask a question about priority. I have been sponsored by my American Citizen mother and have been waiting for 5 years. Will this policy delay my residency card to accommodate all the work permits considering that congress has not passed a law to accommodate these immigrants? Will immigrants who have been going through the legal process be side tracked?

Jun. 18 2012 11:16 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@ Sheldon

This is exactly my point. Only congress has the power to declare war, but it was seized by the presidency long ago. Concentrating all of the power in the executive is very, very dangerous.

We don't have some magical protection maintaining our democracy. We now have government by the rich & powerful, of the rich & powerful, and for the rich & powerful with an ever more dictatorial presidency. You're fooling yourself if you think this is only a republican problem, the democrats are also a wholly owned subsidiary of America, Inc.

Jun. 18 2012 11:15 AM
Jon from Manhattan

I think one of Brian's guest is extremely naive in thinking that a Romney presidency would not endanger those who decide to step out of the shadows of their illegal immigrant status. I've seen nothing, nothing from candidate Romney to suggest that Romney would be being nothing but a political lapdog of the rightists within our legislative system whose stated positions do not engender one whit of sympathy towards undocumented immigrants regardless of age, education, employability, etc.

Jun. 18 2012 11:12 AM
fuva from harlemworld

correction: high investor class-to-worker WAGE ratio

Jun. 18 2012 11:11 AM
fuva from harlemworld

The work is underpaid because underground immigrants accept underpayment...
However you put it, underground immigrants have a negative effect on work conditions...

Jun. 18 2012 11:07 AM
fuva from harlemworld

meatwnyc -- right on...Conservatives seem to like to pile up on the little guy. They seem to shy away from fair fights...A lot of businesses absolutely take advantage of underground immigrants, thereby increasing their profits, which they use to contribute to the Republican party. They simultaneously complain about paying a living wage and its "effect on profits", but it's really all about maintaining the high investor class-to-worker ratio begotten via cheap labor.

Jun. 18 2012 11:04 AM

Kick all the illegal immigrants out - only the Native Americans can stay!!!

Jun. 18 2012 11:00 AM

@fuva from harlemworld

Illegal immigrants are often taking jobs that otherwise go unfulfilled, (eg underpaid field work).

Illegal immigrants don't lower work conditions, the employers who break the law by knowingly employing illegals lower them.

Jun. 18 2012 10:59 AM
Nick from NJ

David from VA:

"U.S. Presidents have issued executive orders since 1789, usually to help officers and agencies of the executive branch manage the operations within the federal government itself. Executive orders have the full force of law,[1] since issuances are typically made in pursuance of certain Acts of Congress, some of which specifically delegate to the President some degree of discretionary power (delegated legislation), or are believed to take authority from a power granted directly to the Executive by the Constitution."

If you or the whoever else doesn't like this order, they can sue. Precedent has been set since the beginning of this country my friend.

Jun. 18 2012 10:57 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

David - when last has a president, democrat or republican, gone to congress to declare war?

What Obama did was political and fairly cynical but it was a change in policy, NOT law...something a sitting president can do.

Jun. 18 2012 10:54 AM

If the GOP is serious about getting tough on immigration why don't they prosecute all the businesses employing illegals? Not only do these businesses have bigger profits from lower labor costs, many of them collect Social Security taxes and others that the illegals will never be able to benefit from. The truth is it's just an easy thing to gain political points about. Much easier than talking about how the party wants to gut Social Security and Medicare to be able to continue the Bush tax cuts and low Capital Gains taxes and all the other subsidies for the rich.

Jun. 18 2012 10:54 AM
gary from queens

As with all exceptions carved out for illegal immigrants, this one will

1. encourage more illegal immigration with the hope of having their children take advantage of the benefits extended in this new policy.

2. penalize those families who legally applied for immigration and waited years on line for their chance to live here.

And Mitt is not "my guy", Nick.

Jun. 18 2012 10:53 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@ bcortez

What you're missing is this is NOT just a precedent for this specific law. The precedent is one of the president being able to make his/her own laws - that is monarchical and it's a terrible precendent.

We keep sliding down this slope with the president expanding his power over and over again. Seizing the power to declare war was probably the point at which the slope became very steep.

Jun. 18 2012 10:52 AM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

I consider myself a liberal, and vote Democrat. That said, I am quesy about this policy. I think it's really easy for children of illegal immigrants like Vargas to make a compelling argument for this change to immigration policy. I completely understand and can empathize with his viewpoint. That said, I don't think it's paranoid to picture people from all over the world viewing this change as an invitation to come to this country and have children to get a foothold here. We do have a jobs crisis here, and serious, serious problems with our education system - especially in public schools in cities like NYC in neighborhoods. How are we to solve our own problems with poverty, education, and people of all ages not being able to find jobs when this act may encourage a wave of people to move to this country for a "dream" of a better life? Where do you draw the line between protecting the interests of your own citizens (or family), and trying to help others? I don't see this as a time in history in which the US is in a great position to share its resources.

Jun. 18 2012 10:52 AM
Edward from NJ

It's almost as if the order was *designed* not to cover Mr. Vargas who is probably the most famous child of undocumented parents.

Jun. 18 2012 10:48 AM
tevel from nyc

I guess we should be thankful that Jose pays taxes while continually breaking the law. how can one expect justice before the law if one doesn't respect the law of land? where does this sense of entitlement come from?

Jun. 18 2012 10:48 AM

"if this kind of unilateral, monarchical maneuver is allowed to stand - when a republican comes in he/she will be able to make royal decrees and to hell with the law"

--been there, done that during the PRIOR republican administration.

Executive orders and Unitary Executive ring a bell?

Jun. 18 2012 10:47 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Please, STOP with the canard that underground immigrants do NOT lower wages, diminish work conditions/standards and, in turn, take jobs away from poor native borns. Repeating it will not make it true. Yes, underground immigrants need economic justice. But not via lies.

Jun. 18 2012 10:46 AM
The Truth from Becky

That's the problem now, a lot of born Americans do not want to compete, for jobs or anything, we are fast becoming a Nation of wusses, brain dead zombies hooked up to electronic devices.

Jun. 18 2012 10:46 AM

@David from Fredericksburg, VA - yes, you are right, any new President can do away with this ("not-law") and this is NOT a real solution, but the DREAM Act, which was a better solution, was not supported even by McCain, who actually said he supported it, when he was running for President. However, this is ONE very small step, in hopefully showing the government that if it allows talent to stay in the US, we will continue to be competitive. There are many students finishing with STEM degrees that also have to leave because immigration law is so outdated.

Jun. 18 2012 10:44 AM


Jun. 18 2012 10:41 AM

What would be the financial affects of kicking out all illegal immigrants as the GOP wants to do? How would getting rid of 1 million plus people affect the housing and rental markets if we get rid of that demand? How would it affect local markets where illegals do their shopping and buy local goods from local businesses?

Jun. 18 2012 10:40 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I've been wondering why the exec. order had an age limit. Makes no sense to me, & I was thinking how people covered by it who were over 30, esp. not much older than 30, would feel about it. I didn't know Mr. Vargas fell into that category--glad you have him on!

I'm also glad he just mentioned multi-ethnic diversity. Too many politicians & journalists have been talking about it as though it were just about Latin American immigrants.

Jun. 18 2012 10:40 AM
Nick from NJ


#1. Your boy Mitt wants to do the same thing.

#2 Isn't true.

#4 Doesn't make logical sense, it isn't a correct analogy.

Nice job as usual.

Jun. 18 2012 10:40 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@ bcortez

You must remember - if this kind of unilateral, monarchical maneuver is allowed to stand - when a republican comes in he/she will also be able to make royal decrees & to hell with the law.

Jun. 18 2012 10:39 AM
The Truth from Becky

Not true, this will not encourage future behaviour at the border. The borders are currently secure and need to remain so.

Jun. 18 2012 10:39 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

@David, maybe he should dissolve congress, because they do NOTHING!!!

Jun. 18 2012 10:39 AM

If you're arguing these kids should not be penalized for what their parents' did, you can't simultaneously complain of broken families.

Jun. 18 2012 10:38 AM

@Jerry from nyc - good, that is what is needed. Just like you, noone is going anywhere and the sooner you and everyone accepts it, the better.

Jun. 18 2012 10:36 AM

@David from Fredericksburg, VA - obviously that would not happen, it is silly to suggest it, but it would be good since those people do nothing and are only in it for the money they will make when they leave or by working with the "right" rich people

Jun. 18 2012 10:34 AM
Jerry from nyc

What kind o precedent does it set? Free High school, then as a reward work permit (green card, citizenship will undoubtedly follow). How many thousands (potentially millions) of new "undocumented" are coming? This country has already plenty of legal immigration every year.

Jun. 18 2012 10:32 AM


Jun. 18 2012 10:32 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Why is there a 30 y.o. age limit? There are kids to came here in the 80's and 90's too.

Jun. 18 2012 10:31 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

We sure do have change. We now have a king instead of a president.

What's next, Obama dissolving congress?

Jun. 18 2012 10:29 AM
gary from queens

Hypocrisy and pandering:

1. Two yrs ago Obama said it would be wrong to implement a dream act by executive fiat.

2. He claims it's merely to prioritize DHS enforcement, which requires more attention and funding for terrorism. All belied by the fact that an illegal immigrant covered by this new policy would not be deported even if he walked into the offices of ICE and announced his illegal status.

3. College students and young people will now have almost a million more immigrants to compete for scarce jobs.

4. We can't penalize illegal immigrants who were too young when brought into the US. On that basis, lets release criminals in prison who are parents of infants? Why penalize those children?!

5. Deroy Murdoch on this week notes other hypocritical aspects of this new policy.

Jun. 18 2012 10:16 AM

correct, it is not an amnesty and it is also not EO, from what I have heard

Jun. 18 2012 10:13 AM

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