Dems push Obama to reconsider delay of deportation review

 

The head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said this week that members of the group will be pushing President Obama not to delay possible changes to the administration's deportation policies. 

"We're going to meet with him," said Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas), "and ask him to reconsider."

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At Obama's request, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has been examining ways to enforce the agency's deportation laws "more humanely." 

The results of that review were expected before the summer, but Obama this week pushed the timeline back several months to allow Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) more time to consider an immigration reform bill in the lower chamber.

The move hasn't been well received by many immigrant rights advocates and liberal Democrats, particularly members of the Hispanic Caucus. In March, caucus leaders had scrapped a plan to offer a resolution condemning Obama's deportation record after the White House promised its policy examination within three months. Many of those Democrats view the president's decision to delay the review as reneging on the initial agreement.

"We should have that review. The president promised one in 90 days, and it should go forward in 90 days," Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), Capitol Hill's most vocal critic of Obama's deportation policies, said Friday.

Gutiérrez said "it was a pretty grand gesture" for Obama to "turn his back on the people ... who have loved him, cherished him, voted for him, supported him and defended him, so that he can give an opportunity to those who have shown [him] nothing but utter disdain." He was talking about the Republicans.

Faced with staunch opposition from conservatives in his conference, Boehner has refused calls to move immigration reform this year, saying he simply doesn't trust the president to enforce the changes in good faith. 

"That excuse has totally been evaporated with this [delay] action," Gutiérrez said Friday. 

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) also criticized the delay, saying she's "disappointed" in Obama's decision to continue the current rate of deportations while entrusting Republicans who have largely been unresponsive to entreaties of the past.

"Realistically, given the experiences here, when the president has reached out, the hand has not been accepted," Eshoo said Friday. "I would think that history would be instructive. It is to me."

Boehner's office was quick to pan the delay, accusing Obama of "playing politics" with the nation's immigration laws.

"Enforcing the law as written isn't a 'concession' — it is the president's solemn responsibility," spokesman Michael Steel said.

Given Boehner's response, a growing number of immigration reform supporters are losing hope that Congress will enact an overhaul this year. If the House doesn't act before August, many say, the onus will be on the administration to do something substantive to make up for the lost summer.

"I'm not very optimistic about them moving something," Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), a Hispanic Caucus member and head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said of GOP leaders. 

"And if the Republicans don't do anything, quite frankly, then I think the administration is going to have to be very bold in the executive orders that they come out with," he added. "Because to go through this waiting period, which we have no choice in, and the people confronting deportation have no choice in, ... then I think it corresponds to the administration to come up with something bold."