Last Tuesday, President Obama hosted a White House meeting with seventy national leaders to discuss the challenge of fixing our broken immigration system. Some of the invitees included New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Al Sharpton, Evangelical leader Leith Anderson and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. While some advocates applauded the President’s renewed commitment to immigration reform, others questioned the timing of the meeting, the invite list, and the President’s sole reliance on Congress to fix our immigration system.
According to reports, the President expressed disappointment over Congress’ failure to produce comprehensive immigration reform or even smaller legislation such as the DREAM Act, and enumerated the many problems resulting from our broken system, which include families torn apart, shipping talent overseas, wage equity and work eligibility issues, among others. In an attempt to exert some confidence in the current immigration pursuits, he asserted that the “administration continues to improve our legal immigration system, secure our borders, and enhance our immigration enforcement so that it is more effectively and sensibly focusing on criminals.” At the meeting he encouraged Democrats, Republicans, faith leaders, law enforcement, business leaders and others to reach some level of consensus on what is needed to fix the system. However, while most agree that a constructive and rational conversation on the issue is needed, many critics argue that the administrative efforts taken thus far have not been ambitious enough.
Although we appreciate the president’s gesture culminating in a meeting mostly to acknowledge rather than discuss the issue, we simply believe that the issue could fare a lot better if he stopped relying on Congress and instead decided to take matters into his own hands. Without any action at all, those caught in the state of limbo that is our broken immigration system will only continue to languish, and our country’s immigration problems will continue to escalate and worsen.