Humanity, not belligerence

To the Editor:

The Islander, in its editorial calling President Obama “belligerent” for signing an executive order on immigration, was engaged in magical thinking about House Republicans.

The premise of the editorial was that the 2014 midterms somehow would bring us a Republican House willing to reform our immigration system sensibly, and that Obama should have waited for that magical transformation rather than spare the children of U.S. citizens and legal residents the agony of seeing their parents deported.

As the past is prologue to the future, let us look at the actions of the Republican House since that party gained a majority in the House in the 2010 midterms to see whether it has been a constructive force in our nation’s governance.

In July 2011, the Republican House forced a financial crisis on the nation as it threatened to default on payment of bills it had already run up. Throughout 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, the Republican House has repeatedly voted to repeal Obamacare knowing that such a bill would face a certain veto if it ever passed the Senate.

In October of 2013, the Republican House shut down the government and cost Bar Harbor businesses up to a million dollars.

Through much of 2013 and all of 2014, the Republican House refused to hold a simple up or down vote on a bipartisan immigration bill that had passed the Senate with moderate Republican support from senators such as Susan Collins. The reason the Republican House has refused to take that vote is that its members believe in minority rule.

To date, not a single immigration reform bill has been brought to a vote in the Republican House.

To believe that a Republican House with an even larger majority would suddenly be transformed is to believe in unicorns.

Throughout the period since the 2010 midterms, Obama deported more undocumented immigrants than any president in history and was criticized by many for being the deporter in chief. He finally did what Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush had done before him: he decided for a limited time period not to deport family members of legal residents or citizens and to issue them temporary work permits so that they could come out of the shadows. Reagan and Bush both did this as they waited for Congress to fix some of the problems of the 1986 immigration reform act that otherwise would have torn families asunder.

Congress appropriates enough money to deport perhaps 400,000 undocumented immigrants a year of the 11 million estimated to live in this country. Thus, the president, like any executive, has to decide how to spend these limited prosecutorial resources.

Obama has decided to deport felons, not innocent family members. Whom would the Islander have him deport?

The Islander should praise the president for his humanity, not falsely call him belligerent.

Arthur J. Greif

Bar Harbor

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