Over the last 30 years there have been two presidents who have taken unilateral action on immigration reform – Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush – by allowing so-called “amnesty” to the family members of undocumented immigrants. Fast forward to the current president who is on the verge of possibly – or as some believe, probably – taking the same action by exercising his executive power to ensure that millions of undocumented immigrants are protected from deportation.
Things were much different back in the 1980s when Reagan and Bush made their respective moves. For one thing there was not near the influx of immigrants flooding through the southern border that there has been over the last two years and hence there was no controversy about providing amnesty. There was also solidarity in Washington surrounding the issue of immigration and the belief that reform was necessary. Today that solidarity, both in Washington and throughout the country, is a distant memory as the issue of immigration reform has been divisive at best.
The GOP Not Happy With Obama’s Stated Intentions
There are currently between 11 million and 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States and the president has expressed his desire to expand protective measures to those individuals as well as their family member in order to keep them from being deported. Meanwhile, the Republican Party – to which the previously mentioned former presidents both belonged – is essentially a proverbial ticking time bomb that will most certainly explode if Obama does indeed follow through on his promise. His intended course of action has been described by those in the GOP as “unconstitutional, cynical, and [a violation of] the will of the American people.” As a result, there has been talk in certain circles within the party about possibly calling for the president’s impeachment.
An Immigration Timeline
Between 1986, when Ronald Reagan was in office, and today the issue of immigration has played out in the following manner:
In 1986, 3 million undocumented immigrants who had been in the country since 1982 were granted legal status as the result of policy reform enacted by President Reagan. Immediate family members who tried to come after 1982 were denied which caused advocates to protest, claiming that the reform measures were breaking up families.
In 1987, an amendment to the law that protected family members failed which ultimately led to Congress trying to make additional changes to the law.
In 1990, President Bush moved to allow family members living with an immigrant already in the US prior to 1986 protection from deportation as well as to allow them to legally work in the country. An estimated 1.5 million people were covered by the move and later that year the protections were made permanent.
In 2012, President Barack Obama approves a policy that protects from being deported some immigrants who were brought into the US as children by their parents.
In summer of 2013, major immigration reform is implemented which allows immigrants who meet specific standards to apply for citizenship.
And in 2014, Obama makes the announcement regarding his intention to exercise executive authority to overhaul immigration policy in the form of extending deportation protection to family members of US citizens and permanent residents.
If you or someone you know is in need of legal counsel regarding an immigration issue, please contact the immigration attorneys at the Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas or call their offices at 512-215-5225.