The President has been meeting with people pretty regularly about immigration reform this month. The Daily Guidance informed us that the President would be meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) “on the importance of fixing our nation’s broken immigration system to meet our 21st century economic and national security needs to that America can win the future.” This has been the third meeting in a series of meetings on immigration this month. Last week, he met with a number of high-profiled Spanish language journalists and Hispanic celebrities (aka “influential Hispanics”), and before that, it was with a group of “stake-holders from a broad-range of sectors.” Yesterday evening, he was on a call with community leaders, to discuss – as the advisory notes — “the President’s agenda and the Hispanic community.”
Despite the White House making immigration reform sound like it’s some kind of sporting event, attendees of these meetings have been serious and focused on asking President Obama to use his executive powers to prevent the deportations of DREAMers and other undocumented immigrants. In all of these meetings, Obama has said that he does not have the power to do this. In reality, as 22 senators told him in this letter, Obama does have the authority — but whether he has the wherewithal to get this done is the real question.
The most powerful statement on the CHC meeting with Obama was released from Congressman Luis Gutierrez’s office on Tuesday:
“It was a productive meeting and there is no longer a debate over whether the President has broad discretionary powers when it comes to deportations,” the Congressman said after the meeting. “The question is how broad and how generous the President chooses to be. The meeting was not about granting legal status to the 12 million or so undocumented immigrants, but rather how to prioritize deporting drug dealers and gangsters, but not to deport DREAM Act students and the families of U.S. citizens.”
Gutierrez, who champions immigration reform, has disagreed in the past with President Obama’s priorities on comprehensive immigration reform. Suzanne Gamboa of the Associated Press reports in her piece, “Hispanic Lawmakers Press Obama on Immigration:”
“How is the president going to proceed? You guys are going to have to ask him,” Gutierrez told reporters on the White House grounds. He said last month that he was uncertain whether he could support the Obama in 2012 if the president didn’t step up immigration changes.