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How to Talk to Your Crazy Uncle About President Obama’s Immigration Action

Ah, the holidays. A time for turkeys of all kinds; the ones you eat, and the ones you call your uncle. At some point, you know he’s going to try to talk politics.

We’ve got your back.

This year we’ve assembled a Thanksgiving-edition of our “how to talk to your crazy uncle” series, offering five responses about President Obama’s executive action on immigration.

Because whether it’s your crazy Tea Party uncle, a distant relative who starts every sentence with, "As a taxpayer..." or if it’s Ted Cruz – someone will say something ridiculous.

CRAZY UNCLE SAYS: Does the President have authority to take executive action?

YOU SAY: Yes, the President exercises executive authority granted to him by Congress in the same way every other president has over the past 60 years. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush both used executive authority to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation. Bush’s action covered about 1.4 million people, or about 40% of America's undocumented population at the time, the same percentage covered by Obama’s action.

CRAZY UNCLE SAYS: But Congress should be dealing with immigration!

YOU SAY: Yes, it should! But Republicans in Congress refuse to act. Just two years ago, the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill, but Congressional Republicans did nothing. One Republican Senator lamented, “shame on us as Republicans for having a body that cannot generate a solution.”

Elected leaders have a responsibility to govern, and that is why the President is taking action. But this isn’t a substitute for long-term legislation – and now Republicans have two years to take up a comprehensive bill to fix our broken immigration system. 

CRAZY UNCLE SAYS: But it’s amnesty – we should deport them all!

YOU SAY: That’s simply not possible; there are not enough funds or resources for that to realistically be accomplished. That’s why this action enables government to focus resources on serious criminals and those who might present a threat to national security.

The remaining undocumented people, those who contribute to the economy, are parents of US-born children, and are law-abiding people with deep ties to this country, must undergo background checks and apply for work permits. The policy does not encourage further immigration, as it does not extend to new immigrants.

CRAZY UNCLE SAYS: This is all part of some vast left wing conspiracy!

YOU SAY: Immigration reform has bipartisan support, and President Obama’s executive action is remarkably similar to the call President Bush made for congressional action in 2006. This must-see video proves that presidents from both parties agree.

CRAZY UNCLE SAYS: We can’t afford it!

YOU SAY: This action helps grow our economy and the price of deportation would actually hurt our economy even more. A Center for American Progress report estimates that granting work permits to undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for at least five years would add $6 billion in payroll taxes in the first year of the program. Over five years these workers would contribute $45 billion in payroll taxes.

Again, this executive action grants a three-year reprieve from deportation, not a green card. And those covered by the action will not be eligible for federal welfare benefits.