Gutierrez wasting no time in push for WH action on immigration

Lauren Schneiderman

President Obama has vowed to act swiftly to adopt new immigration measures after Tuesday’s elections; Rep. Luis Gutiérrez is waiting exactly one day before holding his feet to the fire.

Gutiérrez, a fellow Illinois Democrat who has long criticized Obama’s immigration policies, will host a press conference Wednesday in Chicago to push the president to take quick executive action to rein in deportations.

Gutierrez, along with numerous liberal Democrats and immigration reform advocates, says Obama’s enforcement measures are too hard on immigrant families split by deportations.
Under fire from the advocates, Obama in March asked the Department of Homeland Security to review its approach to deportations in search of ways to conduct them “more humanely.” But the president has twice delayed the release of that review, largely due to pressure from centrist Senate Democrats who feared a backlash at the polls this month.

The delays infuriated Gutierrez and other advocates, who’ve warned the White House that each day of inaction would only further alienate Hispanics, who have come out in overwhelming numbers for Obama and the Democrats over the last several election cycles.

The shift toward executive action came after immigration reform legislation stalled on Capitol Hill this Congress.

Although the Senate passed a comprehensive reform bill last year with broad bipartisan support, the issue has taken on a more partisan face in the House, where Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has refused to bring related legislation to the floor.

In January, Boehner and other Republican leaders had floated an outline for reform legislation, but an immediate backlash from conservatives in their conference killed the issue for the rest of the year. The conservatives were especially critical of a provision allowing illegal immigrants to remain in the country and work without fear of deportation — something they reject as “amnesty.”

Last week, Gutiérrez joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) in outlining what they consider to be Obama’s legal authority to act unilaterally in the face of congressional inaction.

“We do not know exactly what the President will do or when he will announce it,”  they wrote in a Univision op-ed, “but we are confident he will act.”

Wednesday’s press conference is being hosted by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, an advocacy group.

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