During a speech by President Obama, a young man started shouting “stop deportations.” You can read a few stories about it here and here. President Obama sort of engaged with Ju Hong. Now let’s look at what both said and below is my interpretation of the event.
Ju Hong, 24, of South Korea interrupts President Barack Obama during the President’s speech on immigration reform at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco, Calif. on Monday, Nov. 25, 2013. (Jim Gensheimer/Bay Area News Group)
Here’s the New York Times:
“Mr. Obama, my family has been separated for 19 months now!” yelled a young man who stood with others on the riser behind the president at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center.
Mr. Obama continued to speak, but the man did not let up. “You have a power to stop deportation for all undocumented immigrants in this country,” he said.
The president turned to address him. “Actually, I don’t,” he said. “And that’s why we’re here.”
As the event’s organizers tried to remove the man, Mr. Obama signaled no. “I respect the passion of these young people because they feel deeply about the concerns for their families,” he said. But, he continued, the United States is a nation of laws, and “it is not simply a matter of us just saying we’re going to violate the law.”
President Obama was comparing immigration reform to turkey and Thanksgiving. Hong pointed out that, ummmm, under Pres. Obama, 2 million people have been deported, which turns into thousands and thousands of families who cannot spend Thanksgiving together to say the least. This is more deportations than any other president. Period. Pres. Obama continues to pile on his record of record reportations to make the case to republicans to pass immigration reform.
Now, lets look at what Obama said. “Actually, I don’t” have the power to stop deportations of undocumented immigrants in this country. The reality is that President Obama DOES have the power to add new catergories like Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals to protect qualifying individuals from deportations. Other have pointed out categories protecting victims of domestic violence, parents of US citizens, etc. President Obama might not be able to stop every deportation, but he has the power to protect many. (All of this reminds me of when he used to say he could not do anything without Congress in regards to stopping deportations of young people. Then in June 15, 2012, he did just what he said he could not. Obama has asked us to engage him in pushing him to give us what we want. Then it continues to be our job to engage him in protecting our famlies)
We continue to push Republicans to bring a vote on immigration in the House of Representatives. Prime example of this is Asampblea de Derechos Civiles that has visited countless times Rep. Kline and Rep. Paulsen. Luckly, they were able to see Rep. Kline who said he supports reform, but has yet to commit to a pathway to citizenship.
Overall, YES we need a vote in the House. In the meantime, President Obama can use his presidential powers to protect more families from deportation.