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On Immigration Reform, Window Closing on Republicans, Pressure Growing on Administration

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Leader Pelosi Speaks Up, CHC Weighs In, DHS Secretary Johnson Gets Ready

Pressure is growing on the Obama Administration to take executive action on deportation relief.  Yesterday, U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (R-CA) boldly joined the chorus.  And after meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, new U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson indicated an intent to review not only the administration’s enforcement actions, but also its priorities.

This mounting pressure and the heightened possibility that President Obama will act on deportations should be a clear warning sign to Republicans.  The GOP’s window of opportunity to shape the content of immigration legislation and share political credit in its passage is closing rapidly.

In a conversation with Seung Min Kim of Politico, U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (R-CA) called immigration reform the “biggest thing we can do,” made clear her support for executive actions on deportation proposed by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), and said the “notion that the administration doesn’t have some prosecutorial discretion on deportations is ‘ridiculous.’”  On the topic of deportations under the Obama Administration, Pelosi stated:

I believe that if status is the violation, then that should not be even in the scheme of things as to whether somebody would be deported or else you would be deporting 11 million people, which doesn’t make any sense…I think that the approach that the Hispanic caucus is taking is exactly right…

…Looking at the numbers at some point in terms of how people are treated and deported and families separated and the rest, this has a scent of Japanese internment…It’s really a black mark.

But as Seung Min Kim explains, Pelosi “also argues that immigration activists shouldn’t train all of their fire on Obama, saying that lets Speaker John Boehner and other GOP leaders ‘off the hook’ for failing to bring immigration legislation to the floor…Pelosi insists comprehensive immigration reform is still possible, but she’s well aware that the legislative window is rapidly closing.”  As Pelosi noted:

[Speaker Boehner] puts his principles out there, we salute the principles, he takes it to his caucus, runs it up the flagpole, they not only don’t salute, they chop down the flagpole.

Also yesterday, after meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson indicated that he is open to deportation reforms, saying:

I have heard a number of cases that lead me to want to reevaluate our priorities to make sure we’re getting this right, and that’s what I’m doing right now.

I am dedicated and committed to ensuring that our removal priorities are focused on threats to national security, public safety and border security.

Republicans’ continued obstruction on reform legislation makes it more likely that President Obama will take executive action.  As the Los Angeles Times asserts in an article titled, “White House May Slow Immigration Deportations Unless Congress Acts,” after meeting with Secretary Johnson, CHC leaders, “voiced confidence Wednesday that if the Republican-led House fails to undertake immigration reform this year, the administration will act by executive action.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

Unless House Republicans act quickly on legislation, we believe that President Obama will have no choice but to chart a new course on immigration enforcement.  This would not only deliver long overdue change for American immigrant families, but would recalibrate the politics of the issue.  It puts Democrats on the side of the fastest growing groups of new voters in the country and puts Republicans back on defense with Latino and Asian-American voters going into the 2016 election cycle.  The window of opportunity for Republicans is open now, but closing fast.