It seems party politics has reared its ugly head again and has delayed comprehensive immigration reform. Only this time, it seems the party pushing for the delay is the Democrats. Recently, President Obama surprised and disappointed hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals and immigrant rights’ advocacy groups when he informed the country that, counter to his promise made back in June, he would not utilize his executive authority to push immigration reform through Congress until after the elections in November.
Why Would the President Delay Reform?
President Obama has long been heralded as an immigrant rights’ proponent. Since he implemented his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (commonly known as DACA) to help undocumented foreign nationals who were brought to the U.S. as children, he has been very vocal about extending similar protections for other members of the undocumented population.
Given his previous stance on helping foreign nationals, why would the President now halt his push for reform? The answer, according to the media, is that fellow Democrat lawmakers pressured President Obama to refrain from taking executive action on the immigration issue for fear that doing so would result in a backlash from Republicans that may jeopardize the Democrats’ re-elections in November.
The Public Response
Immigrant rights’ advocacy groups, especially those who represent the Latino population, have been particularly vitriolic in their criticism of the President’s announcement. One advocate took to Twitter and accused President Obama of “having thrown the Latino community under the bus” by placing a higher value on maintaining the political status quo (i.e., a Democratic majority) over helping undocumented foreign nationals improve their lives.
It is interesting to point out that even immigration rights opponents have criticism for the President. For instance, Texas Republican Congressman Lamar Smith characterized the President’s decision to delay reform until after the elections as an “open admission” that President Obama will go against what the majority of Americans want in regards to this issue, but only when the November elections have ended.
What Does the President Have to Say?
In response to critics from both sides of the aisle who accuse him of playing into party politics, the President has shifted the blame to the Republicans, saying that they have basically tied his hands with regards to the issue because their party has politicized immigration so much in recent months.
The President is undoubtedly frustrated at having to break the promise he made in June when he vowed to take executive action to push immigration reform forward during the summer, given the House’s failure to pass its own immigration legislation. However, even at the time when he made this promise, Democratic representatives who are up for re-election took preemptive steps to distance themselves from the President on this promise. For example, Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor and Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu both made public statements voicing their opposition to the President using executive action to push immigration reform.
President Obama’s announcement means that millions of undocumented foreign nationals will remain in limbo – or be deported – until at least the end of the year. Hopefully, once the November elections are out of the way, Congress and the President will get back to work on immigration reform and make this critically important issue a true priority. Continue to check back with our blog for all of the latest immigration-related news.
Additional Blog Posts
What Employers Should Know About Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, ImmigRantings, November 28, 2012
New Jersey is the Newest State to Offer In-State Tuition to Undocumented Students, ImmigRantings, January 23, 2014