Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) on Wednesday called on President Barack Obama to immediately take steps to protect as many as eight million illegal immigrants by granting them legal status and letting them work in the United States.
"Success on immigration means a full approach to reform, which to me means expanding protections to 5-8 million undocumented people currently living in this country," he wrote in an op-ed for the Guardian. "Go big, President Obama."
"So, let’s move forward, Mr. President," he added. "Let’s take as many people out of the deportation queue as possible."
Gutierrez is among the more vocal supporters of a big, dramatic plan to give legal status to millions of illegal immigrants. But Obama delayed a step in that direction at the end of the summer, and the White House admitted that delay was meant to spare Democrats from any bad reaction to his plan.
On Tuesday, voters kicked out several Democrats in nationwide and state-wide seats anyway, and on Wednesday, Obama said he would take some step by December. However, Obama wasn't specific, and said only that it would involve ways to "improve the functioning of our immigration system."
The White House is thought to be considering changes that would let it expand the number of green cards available to immigrants and their families. But Republicans say those changes violate the law, and that Obama has no right to proceed without Congress.
To that, Obama said he has already been patient long enough.
"I think it's fair to say that I've shown a lot of patience and have tried to work on a bipartisan basis as much as possible, and I'm going to keep on doing so," he said.
Also Wednesday, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is expected to lead the Senate next year, warned that unilateral action by Obama would ruin any chance for the new GOP Senate majority to work constructively with the White House.