Top Story — U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday unveiled a three-part executive order on immigration that would protect up to five million undocumented immigrants from deportation, sidestepping a year of gridlock over immigration reform in the Republican-led House of Representatives.
The president’s plan, presented in a fifteen-minute speech, would also expand border enforcement and facilitate legal immigration for skilled immigrants. Obama stressed that while the nearly five million undocumented immigrants affected would be allowed to register and legally seek employment, his plan did not offer a path to citizenship.
Obama, appealing to viewers’ compassion, challenged a Republican-controlled Congress to pass its own legislation on immigration reform. “The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican president and every single Democratic president for the past half century,” Obama said, later adding, “we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too.”
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Protests raged across Mexico Thursday to denounce the disappearance of 43 student teachers from Iguala, resulting in isolated clashes in Mexico City.
- In Mexico, more people have disappeared so far this year than in all of 2013, which InSight Crime notes “is a reminder that the disappearance of 43 student teachers in Iguala was not an isolated incident.”
- Ahead of Barack Obama’s announcement on immigration, a law student who completed his studies while undocumented has been admitted to the Florida bar after that state’s legislature passed a bill clearing the way for undocumented residents to become lawyers.
- When confronted Wednesday by Republican Senator Marco Rubio about Obama’s stance on the Cuban embargo, White House advisor Antony Blinken said the administration will not ease the blockade unless the Cuban government enacts democratic and economic reforms.
- A Cuban doctor infected with Ebola while treating patients in Sierra Leone was flown on Thursday from that country to Switzerland, despite promises by Cuban authorities that their doctors would remain in West Africa for treatment in the event of infection.
- Construction on an inter-oceanic canal in Nicaragua, expected to be longer and wider than the Panama canal, remains on track to begin in late December despite concerns over its likely environmental impact.
- Panamanian president Juan Carlos Varela and Costa Rican president Luis Guillermo Solís signed several agreements on immigration, tourism, trade and border security on Wednesday.
- Miss Honduras María José Alvarado and her sister Sofía, allegedly murdered by the latter’s boyfriend, were buried on Thursday in Gualjoco, near their hometown of Santa Barbara.
- FARC rebels agreed to terms for the release of Colombian Army Gen. Ruben Dario Alzate and four others taken hostage over the weekend, a kidnapping which prompted Colombia’s government to halt ongoing peace talks with the guerrillas.
- Colombian national Daniel Barrera Barrera, alias “El Loco,” described by authorities as one of the biggest cocaine dealers in history, plead guilty in a U.S. court on drug trafficking charges, admitting to importing the drug into the country by the hundreds of tons.
- Peru’s government announced plans to cut corporate taxes in an effort to neutralize a recent investment slump.
- Argentina’s legislature is likely to pass a law which would allow for the expulsion of foreigners who break the law, amid concerns over rising crime in the country.
- Following a scandal in which the producers of the popular British television program “Top Gear” displayed a license plate mocking the Falklands War in Argentina, the country has approved a law which would require all public transit vehicles to display the phrase “The Falklands are Argentina.”
- A market-friendly choice for Brazil’s finance minister has turned down the job, two major newspapers in the country reported, an apparent setback for President Dilma Rousseff, who denied she had offered the banking executive the position.