Republican lawmakers reacted with swift condemnation to President Obama’s announcement that he plans to grant “deferred action” status to two groups of illegal immigrants, though Democratic leaders praised the president for his move.
Obama said in a Thursday speech that his administration will grant “deferred action” to two groups – parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents who have been in the country for five years, and young people who were brought into the country illegally as of 2010.
Soon after the speech, the top two Republicans in the House vowed to fight Obama’s plan.
“While House Republicans will still work to do everything we can to move the country forward, it is our obligation and responsibility to fight this brazen power grab that doesn’t solve the real problems,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in a statement.
House Speaker John Boehner said that Obama is ignoring what Americans really want, and has “squandered what little credibility he had left."
“His ‘my way or the highway’ approach makes it harder to build the trust with the American people that is necessary to get things done on behalf of the country,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “Republicans are left with the serious responsibility of upholding our oath of office. We will not shrink from this duty, because our allegiance lies with the American people.”
Their sentiments were echoed earlier by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who will become the majority leader in January when the new congressional class is sworn in.
McConnell, R-Ky., said Thursday Obama would regret choosing to ignore the will of the American people and has promised a legislative fight when Republicans take full control of Congress in 2015.
However, Obama’s move was praised by prominent Democratic leaders such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi, D-Calif., praised Obama for his “bold action” but said Congress still needs to work together to accomplish more on the issue.
“Democrats will continue to demand action on bipartisan immigration legislation that will provide lasting certainty to immigrant families, and secure the billions of dollars in economic benefits Republicans’ inaction has denied our country,” she said.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid also praised the move on Twitter. In his speech, Obama referenced a young woman in his speech named Astrid Silva, who came to the U.S. illegally as a child.
Reid had previously referred to Silva, a Nevada resident, as his “friend” on Instagram and said she inspires him to fight for immigration reform.
“President is exactly right,” Reid, D-Nev., said. “Immigrants like Astrid Silva deserve to welcomed (sic) in the only country they've called home.”
Former Secretary of State and possible 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also showed her support on social media, tweeting: “Thanks to POTUS for taking action on immigration in the face of inaction. Now let’s turn to permanent bipartisan reform.”
However, not all Democrats supported the president. One of those opposed, Sen. Joe Manchin, said he disagrees with both Obama’s action and the House’s choice not to vote on an immigration bill that passed the Senate in 2013.
“We will only achieve sustainable, comprehensive immigration reform if all sides work together,” Manchin, D-W.Va, said in a statement.
Obama said in his speech that the administration will begin accepting applications next spring from illegal immigrants who seek the deferred actions under Obama’s new executive action program.
Those who qualify will be granted protections for three years, Obama said.
“Mass amnesty would be unfair,” Obama said during the primetime address. “Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character.”