Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says he understands why President Obama will likely issue an executive order today providing temporary legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants. Harkin, a Democrat, blames the Republican-led U.S. House for its inaction on immigration. He notes, the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill 18 months ago, a bill that hasn’t yet come up for debate in the House.
“So, it’s forcing the president to do something on an executive basis, which, I would admit should be done legislatively, but the crisis is real and the president has to act, so keep that in mind.” Harkin says if House leaders would allow the bill to go to a vote, it would likely pass. He’s expecting the president to take action today where the legislative branch of government has failed.
“I think he’s going to clarify in an executive order what his lawyers tell him that he can do executively,” Harkin says. “I think he’s going to do something about the “dreamers,” the young kids who are brought here as children or young kids, to let them be a part of our society and go to college here.”
The most controversial part of the expected executive order would grant legal status, at least on a temporary basis, to as many as five-million immigrants who are now in the country illegally.
Harkin says, “I believe that he’s going to stay the deportation of certain segments of people who have been here for a long time and are working and paying their taxes and everything else in this country.”
One Republican U.S. Senator says the president’s actions today may spark violence and “anarchy” from immigration opponents. Harkin says the comments from Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn go too far in predicting such a negative reaction about the president’s pending executive order. “I wish Mr. Coburn would use less inflammatory language,” Harkin says. “This is the kind of thing that stirs people up and implicates fear and anxiety in people rather than calmly discussing it and talking about it.”
The president is expected to address the nation from the White House tonight.