Our current immigration laws make little sense. Coupled with a broken Congress and virulent partisanship, we must accept that comprehensive immigration won’t be happening in the foreseeable future.
Nevertheless, President Obama can do much within his executive powers to lawfully sidestep Congress and fix, or alleviate, many of the immigration problems plaguing families and employers.
Just in the past few weeks, President Obama has wielded his administrative power in a clear message to Congress that he will no longer succumb to delays, roadblocks and a culture of No.
President Obama’s executive latitude in fixing immigration policy is broad. He can lawfully exercise this power, without Congressional action, to ameliorate harsh immigration policies that are not responsive to family and business needs. What are some practical changes the president can make without Congressional action?
Why not offer this option to all U.S. foreign graduates? Doing so would free up the professional H-1B work visa, which Congress has capped so that the total number of visas available to foreign professionals is exhausted on the first day that the visa becomes available.
This would open up the number of available visas and reduce the cruel wait times that separate families and deprive employers of skilled workers.
Executive decisions that fix immigration will bring howls of fury from some in Congress. They will accuse the president of going rogue.
They will also remind us that a new president can rescind these changes.
This is where courage comes in. President Obama has been an immigration-reform advocate, but he has been, at best, meek in using his great power to effect change. Obama has a contentious path ahead, but he has given Congress time to act, and it has failed to do so.
Will he have the courage and fortitude to take the lead?
Let’s hope so.