By mid-March, it is estimated that President Obama will have deported 2 million immigrants over the course of his presidency. Years of record breaking deportation numbers will make him the president who has deported more immigrants than any other in history, and this week Obama is losing the support of one of his last-standing allies — including the National Organization of La Raza (NCLR). Reid J. Epstein at Politico has more:
President Barack Obama has lost the nation’s largest Latino advocacy organization.
The National Council of La Raza is set to declare Obama “the deporter-in-chief” and demand that he take unilateral action to stop deportations.
NCLR, the nation’s largest Latino advocacy organization, had been the last significant progressive grass-roots immigration-reform organization publicly defending the White House immigration stance. NCLR President Janet Murguía will on Tuesday night demand Obama put a halt to his administration’s deportations.
“For the president, I think his legacy is at stake here,” Murguía said in an interview in advance of NCLR’s annual Capital Awards dinner, where she will deliver a speech lambasting Obama’s deportation policy. “We consider him the deportation president, or the deporter-in-chief.”
Obama maintains that there is nothing more he can do for immigrants, but advocates are pushing him to stop deporting people who qualify for legislative immigration reform. The president once insisted there was nothing he could do to help DREAMers, but in June 2012 — after heavy pressure — he announced his much-applauded deferred action (DACA) plan. Since then he’s also announced deportation relief for undocumented family members of those serving in the US armed forces. As Janet Murguia told Politico:
We respectfully disagree with the president on his ability to stop unnecessary deportations. He can stop tearing families apart. He can stop throwing communities and businesses into chaos. He can stop turning a blind eye to the harm being done. He does have the power to stop this. Failure to act will be a shameful legacy for his presidency…
Their credibility is growing thinner and thinner by the day and people know that they did it before and I think we believe that they can do it again.
Murguia also notes that Obama’s high deportation rate is deliberate, calculated to drum up support for immigration reform amongst Republicans. With still no action from the House GOP, that strategy clearly hasn’t worked. But the mass deportations are still happening:
Murguía said the White House deportation policy began as an effort to win credibility among Republicans but has careened out of control. She said Obama sought to deport more people than had President George W. Bush to get Republicans to cooperate on a larger immigration reform bill — a strategy that has not worked in the House.
“I don’t think it’s lost on anyone that there may have been a strategy in place to demonstrate they were tough on deportations,” Murguía said. “Former [Homeland Security] Secretary Janet Napolitano didn’t shy away from the notion that if we can show we’re tough on deportation, we’ll be able to get some of these Republicans to come around.”
According to NCLR, calling out Obama is one prong of their immigration reform strategy, which also involves keeping up the pressure on Congress and registering a quarter-million new Latino voters. But NCLR was one of Obama’s last defenders when immigration reform advocates have become highly critical. And the White House has deep ties to NCLR — Cecilia Muñoz, the current director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, was NCLR’s director of research and advocacy before joining the administration.