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BPC Supports Obama Deportation Policy Over Political Concerns, Despite Human Toll

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busYesterday, we learned that the Bipartisan Policy Center has concluded, somehow, that President Obama should not expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to other immigrants facing deportation because that action would “undermine” the effort to pass immigration reform. From BPC:

“Some immigration reform advocates, frustrated by the slow pace of congressional action, are suggesting that President Obama use his executive authority to extend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to all of the estimated 11 million undocumented individuals residing in the United States. Under DACA, certain DREAM Act-eligible individuals have been granted temporary permission to stay in the country.

“Beyond just legal concerns, we believe expanding DACA in this manner would be unwise for several reasons.

We do not share that view. Here’s the report from Huffington Post’s Elise Foley:

A bipartisan group of influential immigration reform supporters warned other advocates on Thursday that pushing President Barack Obama to halt deportations could kill the broader effort.

“We believe that’s not the right thing to do,” Henry Cisneros, former secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton, told reporters on a press call.

“It won’t accomplish the objective that we want of comprehensive reform and may create a political environment where it’s impossible in any reasonable time frame to get comprehensive immigration reform, because the waters will be so poisoned politically,” he continued.

Where to begin? Would the immigration debate in the House really be delayed by too much action—or is the problem too much inaction?  Perhaps the BPC’s time would be better spent pressuring House Republican leaders to do their jobs and schedule the vote.

After all, it’s been 337 days since Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) said to ABC News, “[The immigration] issue has been around far too long…A comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I’m confident that the president, myself and others can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.”  It’s been 106 days since the U.S. Senate passed its immigration bill, and 93 days since Boehner once again committed to taking action in a closed-door meeting with members of his conference.

Where’s the letter from the BPC to House Republican leadership, reminding them that we have the votes to pass broad immigration reform in the House, and the ball is in their court?

While House GOP leadership continues to stall, it would be perfectly reasonable for the President to stop deporting immigrants who could eventually become citizens under congressional reform.

In the BPC statement, the organization specifically expressed concern with expanding DACA-like deferred action:

The Bipartisan Policy Center immigration task force wrote in a statement that there are issues with expanding deferred action “beyond just legal concerns,” such as that the expansion would be temporary in nature and mask the need for a permanent fix.

We agree that we need a permanent fix. But, temporary relief has been important – ask the hundreds of thousands of DREAMers who saw relief under DACA. In fact, BPC’s Henry Cisneros praised that program, via The Washington Post:

Henry Cisneros, a task force member a housing secretary under Bill Clinton, said he supported Obama’s decision to defer deportations for younger immigrants. But he said expanding that program would prompt a backlash against Obama.

So essentially, what Cisneros is saying is that DACA is fine for DREAMers but their parents should be deported.  And that type of stance is supposed to be pro-reform?

There’s also another glaring hole in the argument.  Could there be an even bigger backlash from Republicans to Obama than there is already?  Or are Republican members of the “Bipartisan” Policy Center worried that the backlash of executive action might actually hurt the GOP?  Over the summer, Senator Marco Rubio warned about the President using his executive authority. His concern is that if Congress doesn’t act, the President will. And, the unstated message is that if Republicans block reform — and Obama delivers relief (like he did for DREAMers) there will be enormous political repercussions for the GOP.

Sounds like a compelling argument for congressional action so that Republicans can share credit with Democrats for the win.

Meanwhile, with every day that passes, there is an enormous human toll placed on immigrant families and their communities. See our website, The Cost of Inaction. This is what President Obama can and should stop until House Republicans finally do their job.  This is our “bipartisan” message: we’re expecting everyone to step up.