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Friday Immigration Recap: The Case for Executive Action NOW

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There’s No More Time to Waste; 11 Million Lives Hang in the Balance

With Tuesday’s midterm elections now over, the President must turn back to making progress on policy issues like immigration.  Here’s a quick Friday recap of why he must use his existing legal authority to act immediately on broad immigration reforms:

  • The Expectations are High and the Pro-Reform Movement is Not Backing Down: Yesterday, leaders from the pro-immigration movement held a press conference to hold the President accountable to his promises on executive action.  As Cristina Jimenez, Managing Director of United We Dream, said, “Details matter and promises have been made before…Our campaign to protect our communities will continue until the policy is changed in a way that includes our parents, families and neighbors.”
  • 11 Million People are Counting on the President to Act: The Washington Post’s Tina Griego takes a look at executive action from the perspective of Arturo Armando Hernández Garcia—an undocumented immigrant who’s currently seeking sanctuary in Denver, CO.  As Giego writes, “On Thursday, the church will hold a press conference calling upon the president and Congress to act. Hernández Garcia plans to speak. He says he’s going to say that unauthorized immigrants are here, living, working, contributing to a ‘country that wants us for our labor but doesn’t want to recognize our full humanity.’  He says he is going to say there are thousands of families like his who have been separated or are in danger of separation through deportation. When Obama says he will take action by the end of the year, Hernández Garcia says, he – they — are hoping against hope that this time the president means it.”
  • Waiting for Republicans to Act on Immigration is “Delusional”: As New York Times writes in an editorial entitled, “Decision Time on Immigration,” “President Obama said on Wednesday that he would act on his own by the end of the year to ‘improve’ the immigration system, presumably by giving many — perhaps millions — of the country’s unauthorized immigrants temporary protection from deportation and permission to work. He has said this before, only to back off in deference to election-year politics.  Now the election is over, and the only thing to say to the president is: Do it. Take executive action. Make it big. He must not give in to calls to wait. Six fruitless years is time enough for anyone to realize that waiting for Congress to help fix immigration is delusional. Senator Mitch McConnell and Representative John Boehner have warned Mr. Obama that executive action would destroy any chance of future legislation. Republicans have had many, many opportunities to move on immigration, and never have. They killed bipartisan reform in 2006 and 2007, and again this year. The party, whose hard-core members tried to stoke national panic at the border this summer, shrieking about migrant children, Ebola and the Islamic State, is not ready to be reasoned with.  The arguments for protecting a broad swath of immigrants through executive action, meanwhile, are firmly on Mr. Obama’s side.”
  • Despite Fiery Threats from Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus if Obama Acts, Other Republicans Dispel the Notion of Legislative Action in the Next Congress: An unnamed Republican strategist tells Talking Points Memo about the potential difficult dynamic in the new GOP majority on the issue of immigration: “You have a lot of people who are going to be preparing for a difficult election, that’ll be their mindset. You have three or four members of the Senate running for president…You’ll have this push-and-pull on this stuff. I think it’s going to be very difficult for people to deal with. I don’t think people’s goals are aligned.”

According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, “Let’s be clear: Republicans have no actual intention to act on immigration reform next Congress.  They just don’t want the President to act either.  In this scenario, hundreds of thousands more  immigrants get deported, the Democrats’ brand with key voters is tarnished, and the blame game is muddied for 2016.

“The only way this country will see real progress on immigration policy over the next two years is if President Obama keeps his promise and makes sweeping changes ASAP.  That’s what leadership looks like and that’s the type of action that shapes history.

“It would be smart politics for both parties to act on an immigration solution immediately.  We just have no reason to believe the GOP will do so, putting it all on the shoulders of the President to lead.”