While liberal Democrats embrace the possibility of President Obama putting a halt to record breaking number of deportations through the use of an executive order– the same perfectly legal move that allowed him to stop deportations of young Dreamers– not all party members are welcoming such strategy.
Moderate Democrats U.S. Representatives Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo, TX) and Dan Lipinski (D-Illinois), openly reject the notion of President Obama acting on immigration while the Republican-led House continues to hold reform legislation hostage.
Unfortunately for the immigrant families in these two Representatives' districts, the two offered no alternative solution to what else can be done to immediately prevent families from being continued to be broken apart.
Read more below the jump.Aside from Dreamers, an executive order could help protect undocumented residents without criminal records from abusive programs like S-Comm, as well prevent undocumented parents of U.S.-born citizens from being separated from their families. This move remains within the legal realm of actions President Obama can take to prevent the over-abuse of our current broken immigration system.
“I certainly don't blame the president for taking action,” said Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Alpine). “If House leadership doesn't like what the president is doing … then they can stop the whole thing by bringing [the Democrats' immigration reform bill]to the floor.”
Yet Democrat Reps. Cuellar and Lipinski would rather see President Obama take no action on deportations.
“I don't care if there's a Democrat or a Republican president, and I know there is executive order and I know all that,” said Cuellar. “But I'm one of those who, if you're going to change the law, let Congress do it. I mean, it's like the health care [law]. [Obama] keeps delaying certain things. He doesn't have the authority to do that.”
Representative Cuellar is wrong on two accounts:
One, President Obama does have the legal authority to act on immigration. He can do so as long as he remains within the legal boundaries set by our current immigration system.
Among the legal federal actions President Obama can take include: Making noncriminals and minor offenders the lowest deportation priorities by ICE and Border Patrol, end federal programs that are abused in deportation like Secure Communities, abandon quota-based enforcement, require bond hearings for people held longer than six months, end solitary confinement and other cruel punishment, and direct resources to combat actual violent criminals.
These actions should not to be confused with an actual reform on immigration (only Congress can do that), but acts that would help ease the number of senseless deportations of people that would otherwise not be deported had immigration reform already been passed. It only makes sense for Democrats to act on available options to help our immigrant population while Republicans continue to hold actual immigration reform hostage in the House. Which brings us to the second point.
Cuellar is horribly incorrect to assume waiting on the Republican-led Congress to act on immigration is even a realistic option at this point. It's almost been an entire year since the Senate voted to pass their immigration reform bill. Cuellar's Republican colleagues have since done absolutely nothing to help move reform forward.
The immigrant families in Cuellar's district, situated along the border, simply do not have the luxury of time when it comes to deportations. Certainly, not with the recording breaking levels these are being done. These families shouldn't have to wait on Republicans any longer in order for Democrats to act in whatever lawful ways they can, without overreaching President Obama's executive power.
But, luckily for Cuellar, he doesn't stand alone in his opinion: Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz agrees with him.
When a member begins to agree with Ted Cruz, 'moderate Democrat' is perhaps no longer an appropriate term to correctly describe them.
The following is what Alliance for Citizenship had to say about Representatives Cuellar and Lipinski:
Reps. Henry Cuellar and Dan Lipinski to Immigrant Families: “We'll Get to Immigration Reform When We Do”
Two Democrats Slam Immediate Relief for Families, Complacent with Dysfunction of Do-Nothing Republican-led House
Today, Representatives Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) showed how they are part of the dysfunction that has plagued Washington, DC from fixing our broken immigration system. With House Republicans continuing to put up roadblocks despite growing pressure by activists and advocates and a looming July 4th recess deadline placed by Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a broad spectrum of immigrant families, their allies, as well as prominent national Republican leaders are pressing Congress for a permanent solution to address our immigration crisis. In the meantime, pressure is mounting for President Obama to step in and provide immediate relief from the escalating deportations that has torn apart more than 2 million families in the last six years.
Nearly 10 months ago, the Senate passed bipartisan comprehensive immigration legislation. The votes exist in the House to pass similar legislation, but the House Republican leadership has gone out of its way to block any votes on both piecemeal and comprehensive legislation.
The Democrats' remarks come in the same week as key House Republicans, along with former Speaker Dennis Hastert and likely presidential candidate Jeb Bush, emphasized the need for Washington to act now.
The following statement is from Sue Chinn, the National Campaign Director of the Alliance for Citizenship:
“We expect more from our elected leaders. Voters send them to Washington DC to solve our country's problems, not to perpetuate them and allow millions of families to be torn apart by bad laws. Both House Republicans AND Democrats have an obligation to fix our broken immigration system because families, jobs, and our communities are at stake.
“Representatives Cuellar and Lipinski are playing politics with the lives of immigrant families and telling our communities that we're not important and that we don't deserve justice and immediate relief. Both Cuellar and Lipinski are choosing to look the other way as children lose their parents to deportations, parents lose their children when they're pulled over because of a broken tail light, and wives are forced to raise their children as single parents because husbands and fathers have been detained by ICE when they show up at work. If they're so confident in the legislative process, our movement wants to see them take leadership and actually move real bipartisan legislation forward rather than just giving us more lip service. We want action-and we won't stop until we win a pathway to citizenship for all 11 million aspiring Americans, whose only crime is pursuing a better life for themselves and their families.
“It seems the House of Representatives can only get their act together when they're under the pressure of a deadline. Rep. Luis Gutierrez and others in the immigrant rights movement have declared June 28 as the deadline for the House to act. The demographics are changing rapidly, and voters will remember at the ballot box who fought to unite our families versus those who turned their backs on us and left our families torn apart.”