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Vermont Delegation Supports Obama's Immigration Plan

Jim Bourg
Reuters Pool/AP
President Barack Obama announced executive actions on Thursday evening to relax U.S. immigration policy for as many as 5 million people. All three members of Vermont's congressional delegation support the president's plan.

All three members of Vermont's congressional delegation strongly support President Obama's new immigration reform plan. The delegation says the president had to act because the U.S. House failed to move an immigration bill. 

The president's plan would make it possible for as many as five million people who are in this country illegally to get legal work permits if they've been here for at least five years. Many people in this group are the parents of children who are Americans.

Sen. Patrick Leahy says the president's executive order is constitutional and is the right thing to do. He says the plan does not replace existing immigration laws.

"He's not overturning it; he's deciding which parts will have to be enforced. He couldn't enforce it all anyway. Let's be realistic," said Leahy. "Are we going to say, "OK, tomorrow we'll deport 11 million people'? We'd have a hard time deporting 11,000, to say nothing about 11 million."    

Sen. Bernie Sanders also supports the president's plan. Sanders says this approach is needed because the GOP-controlled House has refused to take this issue up for debate.

"We have to deal with the issue of immigration. The system is totally broken and dysfunctional. Everybody understands that." - Sen. Bernie Sanders

"We passed immigration reform a year and a half ago in the Senate. The House has done nothing," said Sanders. "He [President Obama] says if the House does something, he'll rescind this Executive Order, but we have to deal with the issue of immigration. The system is totally broken and dysfunctional. Everybody understands that."

Congressman Peter Welch says he thinks this issue unfortunately shows how political Congress has become.

"It's just a curious situation here, where you have the speaker of the house, who has the capacity to act but refuses to do so, getting angry at the chief executive, who has authority to act and does," said Welch. "If the president's actions go beyond what his authority is, the courts will stop that." 

Republican leaders in both the House and Senate have vowed to overturn the president's plan once the GOP takes over control of the Senate in January.

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
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