Photo: Barack Obama (Pete Souza)
Immigration activists agreed on Wednesday that it is “imperative” for President Barack Obama to act as soon as possible on immigration given the failure of Congress to approve comprehensive reform in that area.
“If the Republican Party is not doing its job, the president has the responsibility to protect the community,” Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), one of the most outspoken advocates on behalf of immigrants, said in a telephone press conference.
Gutierrez said that the president should make a decision before the legislative elections in November.
“It is better that the president make a decision now and then let people know what that public policy is before they go to the (polls). Why wait until after the election?,” the lawmaker said.
“Let’s not be afraid of standing for our values, of standing for what we believe in as Democrats,” he said, while acknowledging that he was not privy to the president’s plans.
Lorella Praeli, of the United We Dream organization, emphasized that a possible delay in the decision on Obama’s part would have consequences for - and a real impact on - the public.
Press accounts suggest the White House is thinking of delaying the announcement of executive action for fear it might harm some Senate Democrats who face tough re-election battles in November.
“The rumors that the administration might delay does not just mean more broken promises, it means that my mother and millions more will continue to be vulnerable to deportation,” Praeli said, calling on the president to show “political backbone.”
Clarissa Martinez de Castro, the campaign director for the National Council of La Raza, said that pro-immigrant groups are “deeply disappointed” with the continual delays by the president.
When asked Tuesday about the delay rumors, White House press secretary Josh Earnest did not confirm those reports, but noted that Obama was not “focused” on the political aspects of his decision on immigration.
“What the president is concerned about is doing the best that he can to address as many problems as he can,” Earnest said.
Obama has still not received the recommendations that he requested in June of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder about how to improve certain aspects of the immigration system without the consent of Congress.
The options that Obama is said to be considering range from expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to increasing the number of green cards that are awarded every year.