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  1. #1
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    May 2006

    Immigration groups push President Obama for action

    By SEUNG MIN KIM | 9/19/13 5:04 AM EDT Updated: 9/19/13 6:18 AM EDT

    Executive action has lingered as a fallback option if Congress fails to pass reform. | AP Photo

    A slew of immigration rights groups upped the ante on Wednesday, loudly demanding President Barack Obama circumvent Congress and use his executive power to effectively legalize undocumented immigrants on his own.

    But those tactics aren’t sitting well with some on Capitol Hill.

    Pro-reform Republicans believe the new and more aggressive strategy will hurt their chances of persuading their GOP colleagues to back revamping U.S. immigration laws. And while congressional Democrats are more sympathetic to the activists’ view, some concede the advocates’ methods won’t help.

    “Bad idea,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who as a member of the Gang of Eight negotiated the sweeping immigration reform bill that passed the Senate. “I think it’s dumber than dirt. I just think that’s not a process that I’m going to buy into.”

    Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), who has been a prominent conservative voice on immigration in the House, warned that Obama would risk a total revolt from House Republicans if he acted unilaterally. Labrador didn’t think the president would do so, even if a bill fails to reach his desk this year.

    “He would see an all-out war here in Congress about him taking the law into his own hands,” he said.

    In June 2012, Obama issued a memo that called for “deferred action” for certain young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, effectively saving them temporarily from threats of deportation. It was an administrative response to the DREAM Act, which passed the then-Democratic House in December 2010 but was blocked in the Senate.

    According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 430,236 such immigrants have been approved for deferred action for the first 12 months the directive has been in effect.

    Executive action has lingered as a fallback option for some time if Congress fails to pass immigration reform. But advocates had stayed mostly mum on that option, instead focusing on lobbying Congress on a comprehensive overhaul.

    But reform on Capitol Hill has stalled. The Republican-led House has indicated little appetite to promptly take up immigration legislation, while other major issues — such as Syria and fiscal showdowns — have taken over the congressional agenda.

    And advocates are clearly frustrated.

    A coalition of pro-reform groups will hold a conference call Thursday announcing that they will refocus their pressure on Obama to act unilaterally if Congress doesn’t pass “meaningful” reform bills by October. And seven undocumented immigrants were arrested Wednesday after handcuffing themselves to the White House fence in a demonstration calling on Obama to halt all deportations immediately. They were released later Wednesday after paying a fine.

    The National Day Laborer Organizing Network — the pro-reform group that led Wednesday’s protest — was particularly critical of the Obama administration for refusing to act unilaterally to expand the deferred action program.

    “Unless the president alters course, he risks cementing his legacy as having presided over the most anti-immigrant administration in history,” NDLON Executive Director Pablo Alvarado said. “History books will blame the president and not Congress for a hypocritical and shameful period of immigrant expulsion.”

    The new protests and calls for executive action mark a sharp shift in tactics for the immigration-rights community, which is clearly frustrated with the congressional stalemate and with Obama’s repeated refusals to expand the deferred action program to more undocumented immigrants.

    Obama reiterated that view in an interview with Telemundo on Monday, saying that doing so “would be very difficult to defend legally” and therefore “not an option.”

    The president’s latest comments have infuriated some impatient advocates.

    “He does have the power to stop deportations, and we will keep challenging him,” Cristina Jimenez, managing director of United We Dream, said in a statement Wednesday.

    Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democratic member of the House bipartisan group writing an immigration bill, said threats from advocates could help “break a logjam” but ultimately may not help immigration reform pass Congress.

    “I would think that if the president tries to do anything unilaterally, it’ll just increase the resolve of the Republicans who don’t want to do anything,” Yarmuth said Wednesday.

    A Senate Democratic aide was more blunt.

    “It is irresponsible for immigration advocates to let the House off the hook for holding a vote on the Steve King amendment and not holding a vote on immigration reform,” the aide said, referring to a House vote in June to cut off funds for the deferred action program. “Their focus should be on getting Boehner to schedule a vote, not on short-term fixes.”

    Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a prominent pro-reform Republican, said it is fair for advocates to hold Obama to his promise to focus on deporting criminals rather than undocumented immigrants who don’t pose security risks.

    “I think, however, what some are asking for muddles the issue,” he added of advocates. “The reality is that I think we have a system that has to be reformed [legislatively] and I’m still working on that.”

    If Obama were to go ahead unilaterally, he would almost certainly spur a backlash from congressional Republicans — even among those who have worked on rewriting the nation’s immigration laws — who believe he had already overstepped his bounds with his administration’s June 2012 directive.

    A key Senate Gang of Eight member — Republican Marco Rubio of Florida — fired off a warning in a radio interview last month that Obama could be “tempted” into legalizing the 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally with the “sign of a pen” if congressional reform efforts keep stalling.

    Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), another member of the House bipartisan group, said Wednesday: “I think it would be an abuse of executive power — absolute abuse — and I would argue that if we took it to the courts, we’d win the battle.”

    Still, some congressional Democrats support the advocacy groups’ newfound aggressive tactics.

    Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Obama should “absolutely” use executive authority to stop deportations for more undocumented immigrants if reform doesn’t pass this Congress. And he said the increased pressure by the activists on the White House will highlight the inaction from House Republicans.

    “If nothing happens, they’re going to own the negative side of this issue for a long time,” Grijalva said.

    Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said immigration activists have long struggled to balance a call for a legislative pathway to citizenship with a similar demand to stop daily deportations. Immigration-rights advocates also believe they have made enough concessions — particularly on the Senate Gang of Eight bill — and the increased noise from activists was a result of that frustration, Gutierrez said.

    “When you think about that bill and that process, people were quiet,” the lawmaker said. “People are like: ‘I don’t want to be quiet anymore.’”
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Reciprocity's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    New York, The Evil Empire State
    If Obama attempts this, he will be finished and impeachment will almost certainly be will be guaranteed, even the Dems will have no choice. people are already talking of marching on Washington as is.
    Last edited by Reciprocity; 09-19-2013 at 05:50 PM.
    “In questions of power…let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” –Thomas Jefferson

  3. #3
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    May 2006
    Added to Homepage with slightly amended title: Immigration-groups-push-President-Obama-for-action
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