The White House provides the text of the speech here.
Immigrant-rights advocates applauded the belated move. (Isaías Alvarado, Lágrimas de alegría en LA tras histórico anuncio de alivio migratorio La Opinión 11/20/2014; Peter Hecht and Stephen Magagnini, Central Valley undocumented immigrants see hope in Obama action Sacramento Bee 11/21/2014)
The Republicans howled as usual. (María Peña, Republicanos demandan a Obama por acciones ejecutivas La Opinión 11/21/2014; Amanda Becker, U.S. House will fight Obama's immigration action: Boehner Reuters 11/21/2014)
Golly, if the President hadn't done that, there could have been bipartisan harmony with Republicans for the next two years! Reuters: "All year long I have warned the president that by ... threatening action repeatedly on immigration, he was making it impossible to build the trust necessary to work together," [House Majority Leader John] Boehner told reporters. "With this action, the president has chosen to deliberately sabotage any chance of ... bipartisan reform that he claims to seek."
Bill Schneider, a resident scholar at the corporatist-Democratic, Centrism Fetishist, Third Way group, sees Obama's immigration reform as a move to shore up Democratic support among Latinos, as part of a legacy-building drive and evidently as an intention to finally push back against Republicans instead of stumbling again and again in failed attempts at Bipartisanship over contentious issues (Immigration effort shows a president who is fighting back Reuters 11/20/2014):
Obama is not sulking. In fact, the midterm defeat seems to have given him new resolve. Obama went to China and came back with an agreement on climate change. China has, for the first time, committed itself to a program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Critics of climate change can no longer use China’s unwillingness to act as an excuse for U.S. inaction.At least the immigration reform is mostly a good thing.
Now Obama looks about to issue an executive order halting the deportation of as many as five million illegal immigrants who would be forced to abandon their families. Obama may not get comprehensive immigration reform through Congress, but he has done what he believes he can do. He wants immigration and climate change to be the signature legacies of his second term.
Oh, and he also surprised everyone by coming out in favor of net neutrality. Where did that come from? The president wants Internet providers to be regulated like public utilities. Republicans are crying foul. They hate government regulation. Net neutrality is popular among tech savvy young people, however, who deserted the Democrats in droves in this month’s midterm. The demographics of the issue are good.
And the politics? Instead of sulking in defeat, Obama is embracing climate change, immigration reform and net neutrality. Republicans are grumbling. The president's response: "In your face!"
Still, I can't help but notice that Obama's speech made one gesture after another to the conservative framing of the immigration issue. For just one example:
When I took office, I committed to fixing this broken immigration system. And I began by doing what I could to secure our borders. Today, we have more agents and technology deployed to secure our southern border than at any time in our history. And over the past six years, illegal border crossings have been cut by more than half. Although this summer, there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children being apprehended at our border, the number of such children is now actually lower than it’s been in nearly two years. Overall, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s. Those are the facts. ...Obama's six-year record as President has included a pattern again and again of making moves - or at least speeches - that please his base, then follow up by promoting some bad policy (the Grand Bargain to cut benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid being the classic so far) in hopes of achieving domestic Bipartisanship with the toxic Republican Party.
Now, I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law. But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President –- the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me -– that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just.
Tonight, I am announcing those actions.
First, we’ll build on our progress at the border with additional resources for our law enforcement personnel so that they can stem the flow of illegal crossings, and speed the return of those who do cross over. [my emphasis]
We can hope this time will be different.
But he framed even this action which the Republicans consider anathema in the Republicans' own terms. He.Just.Can't'.Help.Himself.
The International Business Times emphasizes the conservative framing of Obama's speech in: Brianna Lee, Immigration Reform 2014: Obama's Deportation Relief Plan Touted As Accountability, Not Amnesty 11/20/2014.
Demetrios G. Papademetriou provides some historical background on immigration issues in this 2013 piece, The Fundamentals of Immigration Reform The American Prospect 03/12/2013
These are guides to the provisions of Obama's immigration reform actions:
- Guía completa sobre el Alivio Migratorio de Obama La Opinión 11/21/2014
- Christopher Ingraham, Obama’s immigration action: What will it say and how many people will it affect? Washington Post 11/20/2014 (According to the estimate used by Ingraham, around 5.7 million undocumented immigrants from Obama's new reform, 6.2 million will not.)
- Max Ehrenfreund, Your complete guide to Obama’s immigration executive action Washington Post 11/20/2014
Michelle Chen addresses this question of What Will Happen to the Immigrants Left Out of Obama’s Executive Actions? The Nation 11/21/2014:
And while the reprieve will be welcome news for millions, it contains a paradox: young people who were part of the 2012 reprieve, the DACA-mented, will see their parents excluded from the pending relief measures, because the new reforms exclude the undocumented parents of DACA recipients. In other words, the youth who have been on the frontlines campaigning for an expansion of their program now face the devastation of their parents being among the millions who the new measures leave behind.