How to Argue About Immigration Over Thanksgiving

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Americans may be living in states, cities and even neighborhoods that are divided politically, but there’s one place where people of all political stripes meet: the Thanksgiving table.

This year, that means it’s pretty likely that you’ll be debating President Obama’s recent recent executive actions on immigration with a relative who sees things very differently.

But if you want to make the best case for your side, you’ll need to prepare. Below, we’ve put together a guide to how to argue about immigration while you wait for the turkey to cook.

If you talk about amnesty:

And you support Obama: “Obama isn’t giving anyone ‘amnesty.’ He’s just deferring deportations for three years. There’s no official pardon.”

Facts to back you up: The deferrals will only last through 2017, when it would be up to the next president whether to continue the program.

And you oppose Obama: “It doesn’t matter what you call it. Obama’s allowing people who came to the country illegally to stay.”

Facts to back you up: The deferral program applies to as many as four million undocumented immigrants who have no criminal record and pay back taxes.

If you talk about past presidents:

And you support Obama: “Reagan and the first President Bush both took similar actions to let undocumented immigrants stay.”

Facts to back you up: Ronald Reagan signed a 1986 law that granted amnesty to three million undocumented immigrants, while George H.W. Bush allowed family members to stay in 1990.

And you oppose Obama: “That was different. Congress had already passed a law granting amnesty. This time, Obama is going against the will of Congress.”

Facts to back you up: Congress passed the 1986 overhaul on bipartisan lines and later made Bush’s 1990 order permanent with another law.

If you talk about presidential power:

And you support Obama: “Immigration is not like other issues. The president has legal discretion to decide whether or not to deport people.”

Facts to back you up: The Supreme Court has long said that the president has the power to decide whether or not to prosecute a case.

And you oppose Obama: “Today it’s immigration. Tomorrow it’ll be a Republican president deciding not to enforce tax laws. Where does it end?”

Facts to back you up: When asked in 2013 what he could do to stop deportations, Obama said he was “not the emperor of the United States.”

If you talk about politics:

And you support Obama: “Congress had plenty of time to pass a bill. Obama’s just getting around classic Washington gridlock.”

Facts to back you up: The Senate’s bipartisan immigration bill passed on June 27, 2013, and Obama waited until Nov. 21, 2014, to sign the actions — nearly 17 months.

And you oppose Obama: “Obama signed this just before Republicans took control of Congress. Good luck getting them to work with him.”

Facts to back you up: After the midterm elections, House Speaker John Boehner said that if Obama acted alone on immigration he would “poison the well.”

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