By Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times (TNS)
President Barack Obama’s executive action to halt deportation for as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants continues to inflame passions – and action — on both sides of the issue, with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announcing Wednesday that seven more states have signed on to court action challenging the policy while a broad coalition of law enforcement and faith leaders voiced their support of the president.
“The president’s proposed executive decree violates the U.S. Constitution and federal law, circumvents the will of the American people and is an affront to the families and individuals who follow our laws to legally immigrate to the United States,” Abbott said after amending his original court complaint to increase the number of states that have signed on to 24.
In addition to Arizona and Florida, Arkansas, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio and Oklahoma have also joined the coalition objecting to the president’s actions.
But others, including Chief James R. Lopez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Richard Biehl, the police chief of Dayton, Ohio, say the executive order is a welcome measure in lieu of comprehensive congressional action on the issue.
“This action taken by the president is an important first step,” offered Lopez, who said nearly 10 percent of Los Angeles County residents may be undocumented.
“In the immigrant communities that we serve dialogue is important. We cannot do our job without the assistance of everyone in the community, including those who heretofore have had a great fear of reporting crime for fear of being identified as undocumented,” he said as part of a conference call on the issue.
The action “has increased the dialogue. And we are very hopeful that it will continue to increase the dialogue between the immigrant communities and law enforcement to help us do our job,” he said.
Jim Wallis, an evangelical Christian writer, political activist and founder of the Washington-based Sojourners community, said he saw the president’s actions in religious terms.
“The reaction to the executive order by President Obama outside Washington is very different than inside,” he said. “Maybe the word that describes the reaction inside is anger. But the joy on the outside is what I feel across the country.
“The relief to families. The relief to congregants, people in our churches. It’s very simple. We’re going to support those decisions that bring relief to our people. And this executive order brings relief to our people.”
Wallis called the inability of Congress to pass bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform a “moral failure” and challenged the incoming Republican-led leadership to seek legislative relief.
Wallis then went on to quote Scripture.
“What does it mean to welcome a stranger?” he said, referring to Matthew 25. “And what Jesus says there is how we treat the stranger is how we treat Christ himself. So legislators now, in the new Congress, have to understand whether they pass immigration reform or not is how they will treat the stranger.
“And for us that means how they treat Christ himself.”
AFP Photo/Mark Wilson