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Immigration & Energy

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From the beginning of his presidency, Obama supported comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship for many immigrants illegally residing in the United States. However, Congress did not pass a comprehensive immigration bill during Obama's tenure, and Obama turned to executive actions. In the 2010 lame-duck session, Obama supported passage of the DREAM Act, which passed the House but failed to overcome a Senate filibuster in a 55-41 vote in favor of the bill. In 2013, the Senate passed an immigration bill with a path to citizenship, but the House did not vote on the bill. In 2012, Obama implemented the DACA policy, which protected roughly 700,000 illegal immigrants from deportation; the policy applies only to those who were brought to the United States before their 16th birthday. In 2014, Obama announced a new executive order that would have protected another four million illegal immigrants from deportation, but the order was blocked by the Supreme Court in a 4-4 tie vote that upheld a lower court's ruling. Despite executive actions to protect some individuals, deportations of illegal immigrants continued under Obama. A record high of 400,000 deportations occurred in 2012, though the number of deportations fell during Obama's second term. In continuation of a trend that began with the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the percentage of foreign-born people living in the United States reached 13.7% in 2015, higher than at any point since the early 20th century. After having risen since 1990, the number of illegal immigrants living in the United States stabilized at around 11.5 million individuals during Obama's presidency, down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007.

The nation's immigrant population hit a record 42.2 million in 2014.  In November 2015, Obama announced a plan to resettle at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the United States.


Energy production boomed during the Obama presidency. An increase in oil production was driven largely by a fracking boom spurred by private investment on private land, and played only a small role in this development. The Obama administration promoted the growth of renewable energy, and solar power generation tripled during Obama's tenure. Obama also issued numerous energy efficiency standards, contributing to a flattening of growth of the total U.S. energy demand. In May 2010, Obama extended a moratorium on offshore drilling permits after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which is generally considered to be the worst oil spill in U.S. history. In December 2016, Obama invoked the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to ban offshore oil and gas exploration in large parts of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans.

During Obama's presidency, the battle over the Keystone XL Pipeline became a major issue, with advocates arguing that it would contribute to economic growth and environmentalists arguing that its approval would contribute to global warming. The proposed 1,000 mile pipeline would have connected Canada's oil sands with the Gulf of Mexico. Because the pipeline crossed international boundaries, its construction required the approval of the US federal government, and the US State Department engaged in a lengthy review process. President Obama vetoed a bill to construct the Keystone Pipeline in February 2015, arguing that the decision of approval should rest with the executive branch. It was the first major veto of his presidency, and Congress was unable to override it. In November 2015, Obama announced that he would not approve of the construction of the pipeline. On vetoing the bill, Obama stated that the pipeline played an "overinflated role" in U.S. political discourse and would have had relatively little impact on job creation or climate change.



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