Congressional Pressure on Obama to Tackle Some Immigration Issues

As we had previously reported, a group of twenty-two U.S. Senators had written to President Obama asking that he forbid certain youth from being deported in an attempt to fulfill a part of what the highly contested immigration bill known as the DREAM Act would have achieved. Now, though, it appears that the demands for immediate action by the president to slow the pace of the immigration crackdown in Latino and Hispanic communities have not eased in the slightest. Instead, members of Congress are now presenting Mr. Obama with other demands aimed at helping this minority group. Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), and eleven other lawmakers sent a letter asking the Obama administration to postpone deportations of immigrants in same-sex marriages with American citizens. While still others have requested the president to halt deportations of illegal immigrants whose children are American citizens. Because it is estimated that four million young citizens have at least one parent who is an illegal immigrant, this can definitely be considered one of the most ambitious demands made. The list of demands also includes those made by religious and civil rights groups who ask Mr. Obama to expand waivers that would make it easier for illegal immigrants who are immediate relatives of American citizens to fix their legal status without having to leave the U.S.

“We know that immigration reform is doable, but it is just rather difficult given the makeup of Congress,” said Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas), who is chairman of the Hispanic Caucus. “We are asking the president if he could provide some sort of relief to innocent people who are the most impacted by the inequities of the immigration system.” While any policy that may resemble an amnesty is considered taboo within the Republican base, the prospects of carrying forth any type of comprehensive policy on immigration in Congress seems highly unlikely without their support. And given the unprecedented number of deportations, with nearly 400,000 immigrants removed in each of the last two years, some immigrants have taken to the streets of major cities like Miami and New York in protest while others have been steadfast in voicing their disapproval. But some Democrats have been adamant in their beliefs, pressing the current administration to side with their cause by issuing an executive order since it is one that affects a significant portion of the constituency that could very well help determine the outcome of the next presidential election.

Regretfully, administration officials have said that President Obama had rejected any move that would appear to circumvent Congress, which could alienate the handful of Republicans who might be persuaded to join an effort to pass the overhaul legislation. The president told the White House meeting this past Tuesday that he did not believe there were any shortcuts he could use to help illegal immigrants. “At the end of the day, the president cannot fix administratively what is broken in the immigration system,” said an official, adding that the president had made a strategic decision to focus all of his efforts on Congress passing the overhaul rather than acting unilaterally to make smaller changes.

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