Both parties’ presidents have used executive orders on immigration

Politics is a dirty business. Survival of one political party is dependent to a great extent upon smearing the other party, its president, members in Congress and state governments around the country.

If you make the other guy look bad, it automatically make you look good is the theory behind negative campaign commercials. This time the Republicans are in an uproar over President Obama’s use of executive orders to, in his words, do what a Republican-controlled House of Representatives would not do. The Republican contention is that the President is taking action outside the purview of his constitutional authority and should be taken to task for it.

Of course they conveniently forgot that both Democrat and Republican Presidents have issued executive orders during their presidencies.

And all of them have included action on immigration issues.

Why? Because they all felt that it might take Congress too long to act or that Congress, generally controlled by the “other” party, was blocking what they felt was appropriate action. So that there is no mistake, let’s look at the actions of other Presidents in this regard: (Source: Pew Research Center).

1961: President John Kennedy (Democrat) directed the Department of Health, Education and Welfare to establish a formal program to assist Cuban refugees in joining American society. Estimated 1 million affected.

1975: President Gerald Ford (Republican) issued an executive order ordering 360,000 Vietnamese with American ties be evacuated and brought to the United States.

1980: President Jimmy Carter (Democrat) issued an executive order allowing 150,000 Cuban, as well as some Haitian refugees, who arrived at the time of the Mariel boatlift to be admitted to our country.

1987: President Ronald Reagan (Republican) issued an executive order shielding 150,000 Nicaraguan refugees from deportation.

1987: Again President Reagan issued an executive order protecting 100,000 minor children of parents legalized by 1986 immigration Reform and Control Act from deportation.

1989: President George H. W. Bush (Republican) protected 80,000 Chinese nationals from deportation following the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

1990: Again President Bush issued an executive order extending the Reagan-era “family fairness” policy to all spouses and unmarried children of people legalized by the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. Affected were less than 100,000.

1992-93: Presidents Bush (Republican) and Bill Clinton (Democrat) issued executive orders granting protection for 200,000 Salvadoran refugees from deportation.

1997: Again President Clinton issued an executive order protecting 20,000 to 40,000 Haitians from deportation.

2012: President Barack Obama issued an executive order protecting 1.5 million young adults from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

2014: Again President Obama issued an executive order shielding parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents from deportation and allowing them to work legally — an extension of the DACA program. It affected 3.9 million.

The common thread running through all the executive orders covering immigrants is protection from action in countries from which they come and the recognition that parents of young children brought into this country should not be separated from their children by deportation.

Now the Texas attorney general is leading a multi-state coalition including Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin in legal action challenging Obama’s executive orders, which will provide work permits and protection from deportation to more than 4 million undocumented immigrants here.

One of the objections to the President’s action is what opponents consider lack of increased action in closing our border with Mexico, notwithstanding the fact that it is estimated that approximately 65 percent of those in this country illegally didn’t sneak over the border but are here on expired visas granted for education or tourism. This group, especially those visiting as a tourist, is almost impossible to find.

What if the U.S. Supreme Court found President Obama’s action unconstitutional? Would that invalidate similar action taken by the other seven presidents? Would that mean that the approximate 2,230,000 immigrants covered by previous presidential executive orders be voided and they would be expected to leave the country? How about those who joined the military and served in defending our country?

The next few weeks are going to be very interesting with the beginning of a new Congress.

We appreciate your opinions on this column whether in agreement or disagreement. Send your comments to (fax number) 305-662-6980 or email to The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of this newspaper, its editors or publisher.

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About the Author

Kenneth Bluh
Kenneth has been writing a column for Community Newspapers since 1989 when he first wrote about the incorporation movement in UMSA (Unincorporated Municipal Services Area). His columns cover the political scene in Miami-Dade and Tallahassee. Educated at the Wharton School in Philadelphia, Kenneth has been a member of the banking/mortgage lending profession in Florida since 1962. Contact him at or 786-247-0547 where he manages American Bancshares Mortgage LLC’s Reverse Mortgage Department.

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