caribbean-mapNOTE:  A presidential executive order is a directive issued to federal agencies, department heads, or other federal employees by the President under his statutory or constitutional powers.

(by Douglas Ernst, The Washington Times) – The ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee took the Obama administration to task Friday for its “irresponsible” plan to allow as many as 100,000 Haitians to immigrate to the U.S. without a visa.

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said the administration’s Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program – which will allow thousands of Haitians awaiting a U.S. visa to enter the country and legally apply for work permits – is “an irresponsible overreach of the executive branch’s authority.”

“Which countries are next on President Obama’s list?” Mr. Grassley said. “Will there be medical screenings before entry? Will work permits be granted automatically? How will this affect American workers?”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the branch of the Department of Homeland Security that handles immigration benefits cases, announced Friday the program to unite Haitians already living in the U.S. with family members abroad will ramp up in 2015.

At that time the State Department’s National Visa Center will begin notifying families who may be eligible to take part in the program. Those immigrants will be allowed to apply for work permits while waiting for issuance of their permanent visas.

The agency said the program will expedite “safe, legal and orderly migration.”

“The rebuilding and development of a safe and economically strong Haiti is a priority for the United States. The Haitian Family Reunification Parole program promotes a fundamental underlying goal of our immigration system – family reunification,” said Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. “It also supports broader U.S. goals for Haiti’s reconstruction and development by providing the opportunity for certain eligible Haitians to safely and legally immigrate sooner to the United States.”

Roughly 100,000 Haitians already approved to come to the U.S. are currently awaiting visas, The Associated Press reported.

Mr. Grassley, whose Senate Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over immigration policy, predicted the number of Haitians who would come to the U.S. under the program would likely exceed that estimate, calling it “likely just the beginning of the president’s unilateral and executive actions on immigration.”

[The Department of Homeland Security said legal authority for the reunification program “is provided under the Immigration and Nationality Act which authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to parole into the United States certain individuals, on a case-by-case basis, for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.”] Senator Grassley said, “Parole is meant for humanitarian assistance on a case-by-case basis,” he said. “The president’s continued push to circumvent Congressional authority and ignore the rule of law sets a bad precedent for the future.”

Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC.  Reprinted from the Washington Times for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from


1. List the following information for Haiti:
a) the population
b) the religious breakdown of the population
c) the type of government
d) the chief of state (and head of government if different)
e) capital
f) location/the countries that share its borders
[Find the answers at the CIA World FactBook website. For each country, answers can be found under the “Geography” “People” and “Government” headings.]

2. What action has the Obama administration announced it will take regarding Haitians who want to immigrate to the U.S.?

3. Why is Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa opposed to the President’s executive action? [Sen. Grassley is the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over immigration policy.]

4. What questions/concerns did Sen. Grassley have about President Obama’s decision?

5. A presidential executive order is a directive issued to federal agencies, department heads, or other federal employees by the President under his statutory or constitutional powers. Do you support President Obama’s use of executive order to allow people from Haiti to “jump the line”? Is this the right thing to do for Haiti because the people suffered a devastating earthquake in 2010 and so many live in such poverty? What about the Haitians who aren’t lucky enough to have family members in the U.S.? How do you think immigrants from other countries who are also on a long wait-list feel about this? Explain your answers.

6. What do you think would happen if there were no quotas on the number of immigrants who were permitted to come to the U.S.? Would this benefit, harm or have no effect on Americans? Explain your answer.

7. President Obama had promised to use executive action to remake federal immigration policies by the end of the summer. NBC reported in September that the President would postpone any action until after the midterm elections in November “acquiescing to Democrats’ fears that such a move would damage their prospects for maintaining control of the U.S. Senate.” Ask a parent:
a) Do you support President Obama’s use of executive action to change immigration laws? Explain your answer.
b) Do you support President Obama’s postponing his use of executive action to change immigration laws until after the November elections? Explain your answer.


U.S. Immigration Quota Laws

Emergency Immigration Act
Passed in 1921, the Emergency Immigration Act was the first law in the U.S. to place a quota on the number of immigrants who could be admitted to the United States. The law limited the number of immigrants based on their country of origin, restricting entry and U.S. citizenship from any single country to 3 percent of the number of immigrants from that country currently living in the United States, as based on information gathered in the 1910 census. This came to a total of more than 350,000 immigrants, most of whom were from Northern and Western Europe.

Asian Restriction Acts
Between 1917 and 1924, a series of laws were passed, effectively restricting immigration to all people of Asian origin except for Japanese. These laws were constructed based around country of origin, geographical region of origin and ethnic ancestry. This was preceded by a number of acts in the 1880s and 1890s barring immigration to Chinese, which came about as a reaction to influx of Chinese immigrants in the mid-19th century. These were the first laws in the United States in which an immigration quota was effectively based upon race.

Johnson-Reed Act
Passed in 1924, this act reduced the 3 percent quota specified in 1921 to 2 percent and shifted the metric of proportion away from the count undertaken in the 1910 census to the one undertaken in the 1890 census. The effect of this was to effectively reduce admission to immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe, whose numbers had increased dramatically between 1890 and 1910.

McCarran-Walter Act
Passed in 1952, this act retained the national-origin system of immigration established in 1924 but made it illegal to bar immigrants on the basis of race. It also removed discrimination by gender and made it easier for professionals to immigrate, as well. The law, which continued to allow a disproportionate number of immigrants from Northern and Western Europe to immigrate, passed over a veto by President Harry Truman.

Current Laws Involving Quotas
The Immigration Act of 1965 did away with the country-of-origin immigration quota system. However, there are still quotas in place for various types of immigrant visas. Each year, only 226,000 immigrants can receive family-based visas; 140,000 can receive employment-based green cards; 55,000 can receive green cards in a lottery; and 90,000 can enter as refugees. (from ehow .com)

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