President Obama’s new executive actions to change immigration policy imperil the growing, widespread agreement on reform, said the Southern Baptist Convention’s lead ethicist.
Obama announced in prime time Thursday (Nov. 20) his orders, which include most controversially a plan to protect an estimated five million undocumented immigrants from deportation. The president’s actions came after years of his own contentions that he did not have the legal authority to make or ignore immigration law. He chose to act at this time after a comprehensive reform bill approved by the Senate in 2013 failed to gain a vote in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, Obama said.
The president’s decision to act on his own is an “unwise and counterproductive move,” said Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).
A backer of immigration reform, Moore said in an online post for Time magazine it is because of his support for immigrants and reform that he believes Obama’s use of executive authority is “the wrong way to go.”
“On more than one occasion, I asked President Obama not to turn immigration reform into a red state/blue state issue,” said Moore, who has been in two oval office meetings with the president on immigration reform. “People across the political spectrum support fixing this system, and it shouldn’t be a partisan wedge issue. I also asked him not to act unilaterally, but to work for consensus through the legislative process.”
In his 15-minute speech Nov. 20, Obama defended his decision to act without congressional approval as a constitutional exercise of the president’s authority. At the same time, he acknowledged he continues “to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass [the] kind of common sense law” approved by the Senate. Until then, he has authority to take steps “that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just,” the president said.
There is widespread agreement that America’s immigration system is badly damaged. The system and its enforcement have resulted in an estimated 11 to 12 million undocumented immigrants living illegally in the United States.
Moore admitted he is frustrated with the House’s failure to pass immigration reform. The Nov. 4 election gave the Republicans a majority in the Senate and control of both chambers, however. Based on this “new reality” in Washington, Republicans should be given the opportunity to fulfill their assurances that they want to work with the White House, Moore said.
“My hope is that the Republicans in Congress will not allow the President’s actions here to be a pretext for remaining in the rut of the status quo,” Moore said. “Too many people are harmed by this broken system, many of them our brothers and sisters in Christ. The lives of immigrant families, made in the image of God, are too important for political gamesmanship.”
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Baptist Press