WASHINGTON -- After President Barack Obama broke a self-imposed deadline to act on immigration reform, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Thursday issued a resolution demanding that he keep his latest promise and do something about deportations before the end of the year.
The Hispanic Caucus has long pushed for Obama to take executive action on immigration, an issue that strongly impacts Latinos, and members were frustrated by his announcement earlier this month that he would wait until after the elections.
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and top domestic policy adviser Cecilia Muñoz visited the Capitol last week to try to lessen the Hispanic lawmakers' anger. The two officials promised them that Obama would meet his new deadline of the end of the year.
While some members initially considered demanding that Obama act before Thanksgiving, the final Hispanic Caucus resolution urges the president to move "before the end of the holiday season." It recommends that he "act boldly and use all legal means available to provide immediate and temporary relief from deportation to qualified immigrant workers and immigrant families." A two-thirds majority of the caucus was needed to approve the measure.
The resolution makes specific note of the facts that Obama pushed for immigration reform in Congress, that a bill passed the Senate and that the bill ultimately was not taken up by House Republicans. It also lays out a timeline of the Hispanic Caucus' own recent efforts to obtain executive action. Obama first told them on March 13 that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was reviewing deportation policies, and members met with the secretary in April to discuss their proposals. In May, Obama announced he was delaying the review to give House Republicans a chance to pass a bill. In June, the president said that time was up and that he would act on his own on immigration. As the resolution notes, Obama decided for a second time to delay action earlier this month.
The federal government has carried out about two million deportations during Obama's presidency, the resolution points out. A caucus member, who asked to remain anonymous to talk about internal discussions, said there was some debate over whether to single out Obama individually or the administration in general for the deportations -- they went with the latter.
Although the document is tempered and goes along with Obama's new deadline for action, the frustration of the Hispanic Caucus is apparent.
"[T]he Congressional Hispanic Caucus is deeply disappointed with the President's decision to delay executive action and asserts that justice, fairness and good policy should never be delayed," the document reads. "[D]elay in executive action will only exacerbate the suffering in all communities caused by the immigration enforcement policies that result in immigrant workers and their families living in fear of employer retaliation and family separation," it continues.
Read the full resolution:
Whereas, President Barack Obama has supported reforming our broken immigration system and continues to support a bipartisan legislative solution to permanently fix our immigration laws;
Whereas, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has supported fixing our broken immigration system and has adopted principles that reflect its priorities for comprehensive immigration reform;
Whereas, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus initiated and led the effort to call upon the President to use prosecutorial discretion to spare certain individuals from deportation; broad authority, that legal experts agree the President has, to shape how immigration laws are implemented;
Whereas, in the instances where President Barack Obama has exercised prosecutorial discretion granted to him under the law to spare certain individuals from deportation, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has steadfastly supported his actions;
Whereas, it has been over a year since S. 744, "The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act," was passed on a bipartisan basis by the U.S. Senate and House Republicans have refused to vote on it;
Whereas, 200 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have sponsored a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill (H.R. 15) and House Republicans have refused to vote on it;
Whereas, the President met with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on March 13, 2014 and told Members he had directed Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to do an inventory of the Department's current practices to see how it could conduct enforcement more humanely and effectively within the confines of the law;
Whereas, the President requested the Congressional Hispanic Caucus present a menu of options to Secretary Johnson for improving the operation of current enforcement practices;
Whereas, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus met with Secretary Johnson on April 9, 2014 and reviewed the six page memo from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that outlines measures we believe the Obama Administration can take under current law to protect immigrants and their families from deportation;
Whereas, on May 27, 2014, the President announced a delay of Secretary Johnson's recommendations because it would interfere with chances in the House of comprehensive immigration reform and the hopes for a legislative overhaul of immigration laws;
Whereas, on June 30, 2014 in a Rose Garden speech, the President announced that he had directed Secretary Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder to give him recommendations for executive actions he could take within existing legal authority by the end of the summer, and the President committed to adopting those recommendations without further delay;
Whereas, on August 1, 2014 House Republicans voted to repeal critical protections and due process for unaccompanied children in the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA);
Whereas, on August 1, 2014 House Republicans also voted to revoke Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which has been transformative and critical for almost 700,000 people who have applied; allowing young people to pursue their dreams in this country they call home;
Whereas, the Obama Administration announced on September 6, 2014 another delay of any executive action on immigration until after the November 4, 2014 congressional elections;
Whereas, the decision to delay was condemned by advocates who sent a letter to the President signed by 183 Latino and Asian American groups, along with labor, faith, and immigrants' rights organization, encouraging the President to act without delay;
Whereas, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is deeply disappointed with the President's decision to delay executive action and asserts that justice, fairness and good policy should never be delayed;
Whereas, delay in executive action will only exacerbate the suffering in all communities caused by the immigration enforcement policies that result in immigrant workers and their families living in fear of employer retaliation and family separation;
Whereas, the Administration has deported over 2 million people since taking office;
Whereas, there are more than 5,100 children in the U.S. child welfare system because a parent has been detained or deported, and many of those children are U.S. citizens;
Whereas, approximately 3.5 million immigrants in the United States and its territories are parents of U.S. citizen children;
Whereas, there are approximately 1,000 people deported per day; between now and November 4, 2014 approximately 60,000 people will be deported;
Whereas, the brunt of escalating deportations and family separations are taking place in Latino communities, many of which are represented in Congress by Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus;
Whereas, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus supports the immediate forbearance of deportations of those who the Administration has already said are not priorities and those who could potentially qualify from executive action;
Whereas, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus will continue to support Latino empowerment by encouraging the community to vote for those who represent their interest;
Therefore, be it resolved that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus calls upon President Barack Obama to stand by his June 30, 2014 commitment and take executive action to address this moral crisis harming American communities after the November 4, 2014 elections and before the end of the holiday season; and
Be it further resolved, that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, consistent with its long-standing principles, its various legal memoranda, the statements and actions of its Members and its most recent April 3, 2014 memo, calls upon the President to act boldly and use all legal means available to provide immediate and temporary relief from deportation to qualified immigrant workers and immigrant families.