When asked the question “What is a President?”, one might be surprised at the lack of knowledge. Some might say he is “the leader of the country,” others might say, “he’s that guy who gets to live in the White House.” So what exactly does the President do? Well, for one he makes all the decisions, right? Wrong. The President does not hold all of the power, like a King or Queen would, but us Americans know that already. So what else is there to know about the role of the President. Lots. In our government class we discussed several documents about the role of the President, including Article II of the Constitution, Richard Neustadt’s Presidential Power and Clinton Rossiter’s The American Presidency. These articles helped me to fully understand the true powers, and limitations of the President. Article II of the Constitution describes the official powers of the President, what his official jobs are and what he can and cannot do. Neustadt’s Presidential Power explores the informal powers of the President, along with how these powers are useful in modern life. The American Presidency discusses the modern roles of the President that have been taken on as America grows older. These three articles help define what a President is.
Article II of the Constitution gives the formal duties of the President. In section 2 it states “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States … and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States.” But, there are some catches to all the powers he holds. He “require[s] the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices” so that he does not have complete dominance over every part of the US government. The president shall also “give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union”(Article II section 3). Now this might be something the public knows right? They know that the President gives the State of the Union Address annually and that it is always during prime time television. Although this is the case nowadays, it says nowhere in the Constitution that this update must be in the form of an address, it could just as easily be a letter dropped off at the Congress’ headquarters. These duties and powers of the President do seem a little vague, so what does a President exactly do with these powers? Richard Neustadt explores this in his work, Presidential Power.
So we know the President has powers, but what exactly does he DO? Presidential Power by Richard Neustadt studies the powers of the President, and explains how being a President really works. One of his main arguments is Presidential Power is “the power to persuade” arguing that one “does not obtain results by giving orders.” Basically all of the President’s power stems from his power to persuade and how he is seen by the public. Article II gives the formal powers of the President, but Neustadt explores what the informal powers are. The connection between the president’s constitutional powers and his informal political power originates from his unique job. Each branch of the government shares some of its powers with the president, making him connected to each branch, along with the decisions each branch makes. The president can influence each branch, and the decisions that the branches make influence the American society as a whole, which gives the president informal power over almost all aspects of the government and American life.
Clinton Rossiter’s The American Presidency tackles the question of what role does the President play? Rossiter would argue the President has 10 very important roles, and that each of these roles pertains to a different aspect of his power. The ten roles are Chief of State, Chief Executive, Commander in Chief of Army and Navy, Chief Diplomat, Chief Legislator, Chief of Political Party, Voice of the People, Protector of the Peace, Manager of the Prosperity, and World Leader. These roles play a large part in defining what a President is.
So what is a President? A President is someone who is elected by the people of their country, to preside over the other parts of government, without being able to actually take over their powers. A President is someone who speaks for the benefit of his country, and who advocates the rights of the people. A President has many roles, and is expected to do many things. A President is a leader of the nation.
When America was first created, it was seen as a giant melting pot. A place where anyone could go to and be welcomed with open arms. A place of freedom to do what you pleased when you pleased it. But, America as we know it today is not as welcoming as described in the history books. Although we have over 11 million illegal immigrants who have merely been doing their jobs and not hurting anybody, Americans seem to have this idea that all illegal immigrants are bad and are trying to take down the United States. This reasoning is why congresses’ attempts to make these immigrants citizens have been so controversial. The plan to take these people and make them legal citizens of the US would take time and effort, ensuring these people just truly want to live in the Land of the Free.
Right now, in order to become a United States citizen, you must either have been born in the US or had parents who were citizens when you were born. If you do not fit either of these groups, you can apply for citizenship through either “derived” or “acquired” citizenship through parents, or you can apply for naturalization. The naturalization path is usually difficult and requires being interviewed and taking a test on English and on Civics which is composed of US History and Government.To take the naturalization test, you must be a “permanent resident for at least 5 years, be a green card holder, be able to read, write and speak English, be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles or the Constitution of the United States and well disposed to the good order of happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law”(US Citizenship and Immigration Services). In other words, you must be a good person and have positive ambitions for living in the United States.
Illegal immigrants in the US are not green card holders, so they are not eligible to become a citizen through naturalization. Now, most citizens think, “Why can’t the government just kick out all these illegal immigrants?” Well, they cannot do this for a variety of reasons. One, if we did so, we would be losing a large percentage of our workforce. And two, we can only deport people who are violating laws. There is no reason to deport a family who is minding their own business and not hurting anybody. Since they aren’t hurting anyone, why not just make them legal citizens? This is the issue members of congress are dealing with right now. In the attempt to get more than 11 million illegal immigrants their green cards, the White House leaked an immigration bill draft on Sunday, February 17. The leaked plan called for an 8 year process in which the 11 million illegal immigrants could apply for a “Lawful Prospective Immigrant” visa, increased security funding for borders, and expanded E-Verify systems for employers to check employees legal status. This bill was created by all democrats and was widely disputed by republicans. Senator Marco Rubio released a statement saying, “This legislation is half baked and seriously flawed” and that it would be “dead on arrival” if it were to be sent to Congress. This bill could have been the President’s way of saying Congress is moving too slow in figuring out a bill for this. He said in Las Vegas, “if congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion, I will send up a bill based on my proposal…” It has been released, however that Obamas’ proposal is a “plan B” if the congress cannot come up with its’ own proposal.
Illegal immigration has been a big issue in the US for quite a while, and legislators are working hard to solve the issue. While there is a “Gang of Eight” who have dedicated much of their time to solving the issue of illegal immigration and illegal immigrants, they are still not going fast enough for President Obama. The hope is to get a plan by March, but we will see what happens, and how congress decides to deal with the current situation.