For as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants, President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration could mean the difference between safety and deportation. But for House Speaker John Boehner, it’s another opportunity to spar with the president.
“The president has said before that ‘he’s not king’ and he’s ‘not an emperor,’ but he sure is acting like one,” Boehner says in a 28-second-long YouTube video posted Thursday, ahead of the president’s prime-time address. “And he’s doing it at a time when the American people want nothing more than for us to work together.”
About an hour later, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina jumped on the YouTube bandwagon, posting a similarly themed video in which Graham characterizes the president’s executive action as a “tremendous presidential overreach” and promises to “challenge him in court.”
On Thursday night, the president laid out the details of his executive actions, which are intended to protect undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States for five years, and who have American-born children. Also included are immigrants who are highly skilled in tech areas, and who can contribute to American businesses.
The initiative could benefit 4 to 5 million of the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants who currently live in the U.S. Still, a victory lap remains premature, as growing opposition from the far-right ranks of the Republican party could put elements of the executive action in jeopardy.
In June 2013, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform bill. But in the 16 months since then, Boehner has refused to bring it up for a vote.
Obama will travel to Las Vegas Friday, where he will appear at the same high school where he launched his pitch for immigration reform nearly two years ago.