Calls on President Obama to take Executive Action
On the House floor this morning, leading congressional champion of immigration reform Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) called out House Republicans for failing to act on immigration reform in this Congress. He gave them a red card – which in soccer means you get sent off the field and hurt your team for the rest of the game – and said that now it is up to President Obama to take executive action.
The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
Luis Gutierrez is uniquely qualified to do what he did today, which is to call out Republicans for blocking immigration reform in this Congress, and to call on the President to take executive action. Gutierrez is a tireless advocate for immigration reform and is beloved by an immigrant community that trusts him to put their futures ahead of partisan politics. And for the past few years, he has stretched to work with Republicans across the ideological spectrum to try and unlock a legislative way forward. He was positioned to bridge the divide – helping Republicans come up with bills that could attract significant Republican support, substantial Democratic support and the approval of immigrants and their allies.
But House leadership has gotten to no. There are no votes scheduled in July. There’s no movement in the back room. It’s increasingly clear that Republicans have opted for lame excuses and hollow promises of ‘we’ll do it next Congress.’ The fact is that House Republicans have squandered the best opportunity to pass landmark immigration reform legislation in a generation, and reform won’t be viable until Americans elect a House of Representatives that will enact reform.
The ‘last straw’ for Gutierrez has been the way Republicans have politicized the situation in which Central American children who are fleeing violence come to our borders in search of safety and family. They are blowing up the issue to push out their distorted memes that the border is out of control (the children are running to, not from, border patrol agents) and that Obama’s lax enforcement record is to blame (this regarding a President who has deported more immigrants than any other in history, and a government that spends more money on immigration enforcement than all other federal law enforcement priorities combined). Most Republicans are blaming the President’s June 2012 action that protected Dreamers who arrived before June 2007 for the arrival of kids fleeing violence in 2014; some Republicans are calling for the President to rescind the policy and begin deporting Dreamers again; and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is gearing up to challenge the President’s use of executive authority in a lawsuit. The GOP has gone from being the party that wants to get right with Dreamers and other immigrants to the party that wants to deport Dreamers and keep other immigrants deportable.
The moment of truth has arrived. With the legislative window closing, it’s up to President Obama to step into the vacuum and use every ounce of his existing legal authority. And yes, he should do this even as his Administration fashions a balanced response to children arriving at the border. The Republicans may be trying to intimidate the President into inaction, but he should stand up to them, take responsible action on both fronts, and cement the Republican reputation as the party that dislikes both immigrants and governance. With Republicans now red carded, the President now has the green light. After all, he is the only player on the field who is trying to solve problems.