GREENSBORO, N.C. — As early as this week, President Barack Obama could go over the heads of Congress with an executive order on immigration reform.
The topic has been divisive in Congress and is divisive amongst local immigration experts too.
Lori Fernald Khamala, an immigration specialist with American Friends Service Committee in Greensboro, thinks President Obama should bypass Congress.
“I hope that President Obama will act big, act boldly and act swiftly,” she said.
Khamala says any measure by President Obama would be “quite limited action.” She notes that, legally, the president cannot make laws regarding the path to citizenship. Instead, she expects President Obama’s executive order to allow for undocumented immigrants to get work visas and driver’s licenses.
“This is not going to have any impact on the vast majority of non-immigrants,” Khamala said. “But it will have a great impact on the lives of many immigrants.”
On the other side, Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page says he hopes President Obama will first address the needs of U.S. citizens before addressing the needs of people illegally in the United States.
“If you first want to protect your country, you’ve got to start at your international borders,” he said. “That’s the beginning point. The second thing is, once our borders are secure, then we can have a discussion on immigration reform.”
Sheriff Page says, in serving Rockingham County, he sees many American citizens who are without work and without homes.
“If I were the President of the United States, my first concern would be, ‘What can I do to protect each and every U.S. citizen?'” he said.
According to data compiled by the University of California at Santa Barbara, President Obama uses approximately six executive orders annually. That is less frequently than either of the past two presidents.