STUDIO CITY (CBSLA.com) — The president's announcement Thursday of an executive order shielding some five million undocumented immigrants from deportation has been a subject of controversy.
And Loyola Marymount University Professor Michael Genovese stopped by KCAL9 Saturday to discuss the context surrounding the issue.
"All presidents use executive authority. That's been true from Washington to Obama. And almost all executives actions are non-controversial. Every once in a while something spills over causes great concern and controversy," he said.
"It's one of those cases reasonable people could disagree. And historically we have seen for the most part presidents prevail in these cases. Congress had many opportunities to act. In fact, the Senate passed a bi-partisan bill last year. The House refused to do so. And so the president clearly signaled he was going to do this, gave the Congress opportunities, but Congress hasn't been doing its job. And therefore the president said, I am going to step in if you don't. And he did so."
Professor Genovese also touched on disagreements over whether the president is overreaching.
"I think there's been a lot of bombast, a lot of misinformation," he said.
"If you look at recent history of presidents' executive orders on immigration, the president has done less than Ronald Reagan did via executive order on immigration, less than George H.W. Bush did, less than George W. Bush did, and so in that context the president's actions are very mild and non-controversial compared to what past presidents - Republicans even - have done on immigration, on their own authority," he continued.
Genovese believes there are two polarizing factors driving ongoing debate. Political opposition, he points out, can often be rewarded for publicly attacking such orders, in the case of Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
"A number of politicians are rewarded for taking the president on frontally," Genovese said. "You saw Ted Cruz making some really outrageous, almost silly statements. And you think how could someone so smart sound so silly? And the answer is, because he's running for president and the base he's trying to appeal to - the Tea Party republicans - it's red meat for them. They love that. And so they're being rewarded for being bombastic.
"The second, I think more important issue, is that in our history we've always had controversy over immigration... There's always been that native aside, anti-immigrant [saying] 'They're ruining America.'
"There's also the other side, the Statue of Liberty side," he continued, quoting The New Colossus, a poem engraved below the New York City landmark: '[Give us] your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.' People who think immigration strengthens us, that makes us more diverse, stronger, better, that renews the American spirit. That controversy has gone on for 200 years and I think that is the context that makes with President Obama and immigration so controversial."
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