Photo: Barack Obama (Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama’s decision to postpone until August completion of a review of the deportation policy so as not to torpedo immigration reform in Congress was received on Wednesday with criticism by activists and skepticism by Republicans.
“Now isn’t the time to be playing politics with immigration enforcement or our national security,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for Republican House Speaker John Boehner.
The speaker is the person who has the authority to call a vote in the House of Representatives to approve the bipartisan reform bill the Senate passed in June 2013.
However, Boehner does not seem inclined to allow that vote to be held before the legislative elections in November.
Obama is seeking to give more time to Republicans in Congress so that they can arrive at a common stance on immigration reform.
The reaction by pro-immigrant groups was immediate.
“While a delay in executive action to fix the broken immigration system may not mean much to the White House and House Republicans, in our communities it means that brave workers, parents and children go about their lives with the prospect of losing a loved one every single day,” Fair Immigration Reform Movement spokesperson Kica Matos said.
Activists emphasized that despite nice words from the White House about desiring immigration reform, the number of deportations during the first five years of the Obama administration has exceeded 2 million, almost the same number deported during the eight years under Republican George W. Bush.
Therefore, and because of the blocking of the reform bill in Congress, they are demanding that Obama use his executive authority to end the deportations.
Lorella Praeli, the policy director for the United We Dream group, expressed indignation over Obama’s announcement.
“To say that we can wait is to be complacent with the more than 60,000 deportations that will happen between now and August,” said Praeli in a communique.
On March 14, Obama tasked Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson with preparing a report on deportations studying how the regulations can be applied in a more “humane” way, but Republicans have warned that any action by executive order in this area would negate any possibility that immigration reform would be discussed in the House.