Obama’s delay on immigration reform angers reformers

Luis Gutierrez
Luis Gutierrez

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ver the weekend, the Obama administration announced it would be holding off on signing an executive order on immigration reform. The reform could potentially create a path to legal status for millions of undocumented workers and expand a deferred deportation program for children of undocumented immigrants in the country. In a statement, administration officials said no action would be taken on immigration until after the November elections.

“The politics have trumped the policy for the moment,” said Illinois Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) on Monday. He said the changes have been in the works for over a decade and this latest delay wasn’t going to stop immigration reform’s momentum. He made these statements at a press conference held by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights on Monday at Casa Michoacan, 1638 S. Blue Island. Immigrant families being hurt by the current immigration system demanded reforms at the event.

“We want President [Barack] Obama to be committed to his word. We urge him to remember the promises he made to our families,” said Carolina Rivera, an immigrant mother of three children who are U.S. citizens. She was one of several mothers who spoke at the event.

“As a candidate, you promised our community hope. Up until now, [Obama] hasn’t done anything for us,” said Rivera.
In June, the Obama administration said it was pursing the reforms as a way to strengthen the economy, strengthen the nation’s borders and ease the “heartbreak” immigrant families face with the current deportation system. However, even then the White House said that House Republicans were the main obstacle for passing the reform legislation.

“Their argument seems to be that because the system’s broken, we shouldn’t make an effort to fix it. It makes no sense. It’s not on the level. It’s just politics. Plain and simple,” said Obama in a June release.

Conservatives claim the reform legislation would essentially be giving amnesty to immigrant “lawbreakers.” Opponents further argue that undocumented immigrants force the government to grow in size when federal funding is limited and that they increase competition with U.S. citizens for employment during a recession market.

Earlier this year, an immigration reform bill was initially passed in the Senate but became stalled in the Republican controlled House. And after a large number of unaccompanied children from Latin America began arriving at the U.S. border, Obama said he would take an executive action on the issue to circumvent the House’s partisan roadblock. However, Obama’s move to delay that action might be based on the possibility Democrats could regain control of the House after the November midterm elections.

“Five million American immigrant children go to bed every night wondering if their parents are going to be deported,” said Gutierrez. “They’re waiting. And they have to wait longer, and I’m sad for them.”

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