Congressman Raul Grijalva joined 27 other Democrats to urge President Barack Obama to expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to all undocumented immigrants now in the United States.
Obama established the DACA program, which allows potential DREAM Act kids to be safe from prosecution and deportation, last year. But in a November speech at a fundraiser, he dismissed the idea of expanding the program in response to a heckler who demanded he stop deporting undocumented immigrants.
"What you need to know, when I'm speaking as president of the United States and I come to this community, is that if in fact I could solve all of these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so," Obama said. "But we're also a nation of laws. That's part of our tradition. … So the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws. What I'm proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic process to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve. But it won't be as easy as just shouting. It requires us lobbying and getting it done."
In a letter to Obama, Grijalva and his fellow Democrats said they "cannot continue to witness potential citizens in our districts go through the anguish of deportation when legalization could be just around the corner for them. We look to you to firmly contribute to advancing inclusion for immigrants by suspending deportations and expanding DACA."
"Every deportation of a father, a sister, or a neighbor tears at our social consciousness; every unnecessary raid and detention seriously threatens the fabric of civil liberties we swore to uphold," the letter reads. "We are talking about American families and American communities. Criminalizing American families or giving local law enforcement the responsibility to choose who stays and who goes, is not the right option.”