Now that Barack Obama’s speech is over, the hard work begins, says the New York Times. “Efforts over the last decade to repair immigration have repeatedly ended in failure, leaving the meanness of the broken status quo,” it writes in its editorial. “The most immediate and profound benefit of Obama’s decision is the lifting of fear in immigrant communities, even though perhaps half of the undocumented population will still be left out. Many parents will be excluded, and many families will be broken. Their struggle will continue,” it believes.

Seattle Times’ conclusion of its editorial is pithy. “Obama had to act — in this limited way,” it says. However, it terms his decision a stop gap, “an attempt to remedy one part of the hopelessly broken system in place now. Too many families are being pulled apart by deportations. The nation needs comprehensive immigration reform”, it says. “Generations of children brought to the US by their parents have grown up and graduated from US schools only to have their lives, potential careers and contributions stymied because of their legal status.” The Congress, says the Times, “needs to do so much more. The Senate reform bill is the best way to do that”.

The Boston Globe, in keeping with the general US sentiment of the impact on human lives being rendered apart, writes: “There is, of course, an inherent political risk in acting unilaterally. Republicans will vilify Obama for acting on his own. Calls for impeachment will intensify, a concept that is as absurd as Republicans’ refusal to solve the immigration gridlock. The political fallout on immigration will be volatile. But the human cost of inaction — the families upended, the lives disrupted — is much greater.”

On the other side of the planet, in Kingston, Jamaica, the Gleaner newspaper says: “With two years left in office and ineligible for re-election, Barack Obama perhaps has a sense of freedom. He can do things with the calculation about the potential personal costs in the next campaign. That, in part, may have influenced the US president, in the face of the intransigence of his Republican foes in Congress, to resort to executive powers to attempt a partial fix of an American immigration system which everyone agrees is badly broken. In the process, Obama is likely to have made gains for his Democratic Party among Latino voters ...”

But the paper also has a suggestion for Obama. “Obama should use his new, perversely acquired freedom to attack another thorny issue that would benefit the United States (and) burnish his legacy. He should normalise diplomatic relations with Cuba ...”

Bloomberg considers the options open for the Republicans after what Obama has done. “What can they do?,” it asks. “They can shut down the government, but that would be shooting themselves in the foot, because the American people rightly blame Congress for such extremism. They can try to prevent the president from carrying out his orders by withholding funding from some federal agencies, which will draw a presidential veto ...” The best thing, it suggests, is for the Republicans to “respond constructively — because this problem is a long way from being fixed”.