By Mike Lillis - 10/30/14 11:17 AM EDT
Hoping to energize Hispanic voters ahead of next week's midterm elections, House Democrats are making the case for bold executive action on immigration reform.
Obama has vowed since March to use his executive authority to rein in deportations in the absence of congressional action on immigration reform. But, bowing to political pressure from within his own party, the president has twice delayed any such move, pushing his decision beyond the midterm elections.
The delays have been unpopular with liberal Democrats on Capitol Hill, including leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who have argued for both the policy and political advantages of reducing deportations immediately.
With recent polls showing eroding Hispanic support for the Democratic Party, House Democrats picked up their pens this week to make the case saying why Obama should find his.
"[J]ust as presidents before him, President Obama has broad authority to make our immigration system better meet the needs of our country and reflect our shared values," Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Reps. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) wrote in the op-ed. "And every Administration since President Dwight D. Eisenhower has used executive authority to do just that."
The lawmakers are pushing Obama to scale back deportations for people in the country illegally and provide more work opportunities to those waiting in line for green cards.
They also want the president to make it easier for foreign students to remain in the United States and work after getting their degrees and to expand the "parole in place" program, allowing relatives of U.S. citizens to seek permanent residency without having to leave the country first.
They're citing specific examples of similar policies adopted under Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
"[T]here are dozens of reforms that the President can adopt," the Democrats wrote.
The message arrives a day after Pew released a poll revealing that Hispanic support for Democratic candidates has sunk this cycle, down to 57 percent, from 65 percent in 2010. Republicans, meanwhile, while still far behind, have gained 6 percentage points over the same span, with 28 percent of Hispanic voters saying they'll choose the GOP candidate this time around.
Many immigration reformers have argued that Obama is at least partly to blame for that shift. The president ran his 2008 and 2012 campaigns with vows of enacting comprehensive immigration reform, promises so far unrealized.
While Democrats are quick to blame Republicans for the impasse, especially in the face of Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerConservative allies on opposite sides in GOP primary fight Clinton maps out first 100 days The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE's (R-Ohio) refusal to take up any related legislation, they've also grown increasingly agitated with Obama's inaction.
Thursday's op-ed, even while conveying confidence that Obama will move quickly after the elections, reflects some of that frustration.
"We do not know exactly what the President will do or when he will announce it," they wrote, "but we are confident he will act."