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Press Release

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor’s statement on President’s Immigration Accountability Executive Actions

“Florida families, businesses, universities, law enforcement agencies, churches and faith leaders have urged Congress for years to fix America’s broken immigration laws. I have listened to their stories and together we have pressed for change.

“But time after time, Republicans who control the U.S. House failed to act, failed to allow debate on the floor and blocked a vote – even after two-thirds of the U.S. Senate voted to pass a bipartisan reform bill a year and a half ago. Speaker Boehner said many times that the House would act, but it never did. 

“The U.S. Senate passed its bipartisan immigration reform bill in June of 2013 by a vote of 68-32. Since that time, House Republicans blocked any action on the House companion, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (H.R. 15), which has 200 cosponsors. Aside from the humanitarian benefits to immigrant families, a report from the Congressional Budget Office found that HR15 would reduce the deficit by $900 billion over the next two decades, including $200 billion in the first decade alone.  HR15 would provide an earned pathway to citizenship, reduce the deficit and create jobs. In Florida, commonsense immigration reform would directly benefit a range of industries that are central to our economy – including technology, agriculture, tourism and construction.

“In the face of interminable obstruction, it is necessary for President Obama to act by executive order, just as he did in 2012 when he granted temporary relief to DREAM Act students who were born outside America but know no other country and have no other home. Such temporary relief for DREAM Act students paved the way for many young people to become productive individuals for our local communities, like Jose Godinez-Samperio who will be sworn into the Florida Bar this evening by a Florida Supreme Justice in Tampa. The executive order inspired even the Republican-led Florida Legislature to allow a non-citizen with new legal status to realize his dream to the benefit of our state. If any pathway or application process existed, that would have been preferable. However, no such process exists until Congress changes the law to allow it.

“An executive order is no substitute for congressional action – unless over time Congress fails to act – so I urge my Republican colleagues to end the threats of lawsuits and impeachment, and instead allow debate, amendments and a vote on an immigration reform bill as soon as possible. Immigration reform would lift our state’s economy and provide a tough, but fair path to citizenship that does not exist today.” 

Here are a few examples of important executive orders also brought about by other failures of Congress to act on the central issues of their time:

  • On January 1, 1864, President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation took effect per Executive Order.
  • In the early 1900s, President Theodore Roosevelt laid the foundation for our National Park System through a series of Executive Orders.
  •  In 1948, President Truman desegregated the Armed Forces by Executive Order.
  •  In 1957, President Eisenhower issued Executive Orders to ensure desegregation in Little Rock, Arkansas.
  •  In 1961, President Kennedy established the President’s Commission on Equal Employment through Executive Order.
  •  In 1987, President Regan initiated a blanket deferral of deportation (similar to today’s DACA program) for children under 18 who were living in households where parents were legalizing.
  •  In 1990, President George H.W. Bush expanded the blanket deferral initiated by President Reagan to as many as 1.5 million spouses and children of immigrants who were legalizing, provided they met certain criteria. President Bush expanded this deferral after related legislation passed in the Senate, but stalled in the House. 
  • In 2010, President Obama used an Executive Order to adopt many of the safety precautions recommended for deep water oil drilling by the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Commission after the Gulf of Mexico disaster after Congress failed to do so.