Obama Plugs ‘Immigration Rights’ in Labor Day Address

The President’s inclusion of “Immigration Rights” with the epic struggles of American democracy–civil rights, women’s rights, voting rights, gay rights and workers’ rights–suggests Mr. Obama sees the struggle for immigration reform as an historic movement not tied to party or politics but inherent to the American democratic experience.

Notice he used the term “immigration rights” not “immigrants’ rights”? “Immigration rights” carries with it political, social and cultural significance while “immigrants’ rights” is a more direct reference to redress of rights through the courts. Mr. Obama’s statement is significant because if he truly views “immigration rights” with the same reverence as he does “civil rights” he can neither politically nor morally justify further delay in the use of his lawful authority to make the immigration system work better until Congress acts. The President’s reference to “immigration rights” together with the other epic American civil liberties movements suggests executive action is imminent. After all, how can Mr. Obama postpone protecting any right?

TIME

Delivering a fiery address marking Labor Day in Milwaukee on Monday, President Barack Obama for the first time indicated his support for the rights of immigrants in the U.S.

“Hope is what gives us courage; hope is what gave soldiers courage to storm a beach,” Obama said, harkening back to his 2008 presidential campaign. “Hope is what gives young people the strength to march for women’s rights and workers’ rights and civil rights and voting rights and gay rights and immigration rights.”

It was the first time “immigration rights” had been included in the president’s familiar riff on civil principles, and the first time Obama has used the phrase outside the context of referring to “immigration-rights activists.”

The statement, seemingly delivered off the cuff, is the latest indication of Obama laying the groundwork for unilateral executive action that could defer prosecutions for millions who arrived in the United States illegally.

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About David Leopold
Past President American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), In-the-Trenches practicing immigration Attorney, Blogger, Activist, Photographer, Educator, World Traveler. All opinions are my own.

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