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Sen. Angus King, We Need Presidential Action on Immigration — Not Delay

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The clearest sign that executive action on immigration is indeed coming — and soon — arrived today when the New York Times reported that President Obama is considering granting administrative relief to some five million immigrants.

All week, Democrats and other allies have moved to line up behind the President — the Congressional Progressive Caucus released a memo yesterday pushing Obama to provide relief to seven million immigrants, while 115 House Democrats today urged the President to “act boldly.”

However, some continue to miss the point, notably Sen. Angus King (I-ME), who is an independent who caucuses with the Democrats and supports immigration reform.  You wouldn’t know that from the quote he gave the New York Times today, saying:

I think it [executive action] will create a backlash in the country that could actually set the cause back and inflame our politics in a way that I don’t think will be conducive to solving the problem.

Unfortunately, at this point, it’s unclear what would be conducive to solving the problem.  Republicans have had nearly two years to take up legislative immigration reform — and they’ve completely refused to do so, making excuses, pointing fingers, and taking hateful anti-immigrant votes instead.  The GOP has repeatedly been saying that any action from Obama would “poison the well” for them to pass legislation — but no one seriously believes that they would do something otherwise.

Meanwhile, the immigrant community has waited too long for relief.  Every day that passes sees hundreds of families facing separation and deportation.  And there will always be excuses that opponents can make to say Obama should wait — this year’s spending bill, the attorney general confirmation, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)’s runoff, so on.  The danger is turning executive action into something that the Latino and immigrant communities end up waiting on for years, just as they have waited for legislative immigration reform.

It’s time for something presidential.  That’s action, not more delay.