The Supreme Court on Thursday delivered a heavy scolding to President Barack Obama for executive overreach on appointments. The House plans to sue the president for executive overreach on a variety of topics. Meanwhile, a flood of illegal immigrant children are pouring across the U.S. border.
So timing might seem off for House Democrats to demand Obama take executive action on immigration.
But on the anniversary of the Senate-passed comprehensive immigration reform bill — which included a path to citizenship with increased border security — some Democrats are arguing it’s the only solution, because the Republican-controlled House won’t take up the bill.
“As we mark one year since the Senate passed bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform, we must face the fact that this Republican led House has no intention of following suit,” Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said in a statement Friday issued by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. “It’s time for President Obama to step up and do everything within his power to ease the plight of the men, women and children suffering from our broken immigration system.”
“Executive action will fall short of what could have been achieved by Congress and, as we work towards a permanent solution, we should be clear-eyed about where fault lies,” Grijalva said. “Republicans have failed the American people by refusing to fix a dysfunctional system.”
Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), the chairman of the immigration task force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, blamed House Republicans for obstruction.
“But we need a dance partner to work in a bipartisan manner and so far, Republicans have refused to take any action and are threatening to sue the president if he does,” Gutiérrez said. “We have got to refocus our resources on deporting criminals and keeping out threats, but Republicans are standing in the way.”
Obama talked about both the lawsuit announced this week by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and the immigration crisis at the border in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“The suit is a stunt, but what I’ve told Speaker Boehner directly is, ‘if you’re really concerned about me taking too many executive actions, why don’t you try getting something done through congress?’” Obama told ABC. “The majority of the American people want to see immigration reform done. We had a bipartisan bill through the Senate. If I try to fix some parts of it administratively that are within my authority, why you are not doing anything?”
The president was referring to the 2012 deferred action policy of not deporting children who were brought to the country illegally by their parents. He didn’t talk about taking further executive action on immigration.
Some critics have blamed the deferred action policy on causing confusion that prompted the unaccompanied minors to cross the border.
“Our message is absolutely don’t send your children, unaccompanied, on trains or through a bunch of smugglers,” Obama said on “Good Morning America.” “That’s our direct message to families in Central America. Don’t send your children to the borders. If they do make it, they’ll get sent back. More importantly, they may not make it.”
But there is more the president can do, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said, according to The Hill.
“We’re deporting too many people; we’re breaking up families; and he ought to do whatever’s in his executive power to change what is a bad policy,” Nadler said. “It’s the right thing to do.”
The Obama administration has asserted that it has increased deportations, but what it’s actually done is increased the number of removal orders given to illegal immigrants. Meanwhile, the number of illegals returned to their home countries has really declined under Obama, according to the Yearbook of Immigration Statistics published by the Department of Homeland Security (see table 39).
Not all Democrats are demanding executive action; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told The Hill she believes Boehner “is of good faith on this” and would find a way to act.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) also told The Hill: “Maybe Speaker Boehner would come to his senses.”
But Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas), the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, still insisted this week that executive action from Obama is overdue.
“I told him that we’d give him time, so we should be going to the White House soon,” Hinojosa said Wednesday.
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