by Jim Nintzel
President Barack Obama announced this weekend that any executive action to address immigration policy would wait until after the election. Slate reports:
It’s official: President Obama is putting politics first. As officials started hinting last week, Obama has decided to delay taking his promised executive action on immigration reform until after the November elections. In June he had bitterly criticized Republicans and vowed to use his executive authority on the issue before the end of the summer. The White House started telling lawmakers and advocacy groups of the president's reversal late Friday and Saturday morning, reports the Washington Post. The decision hardly comes as a surprise considering Senate Democrats had warned the president that if he fulfilled his June promise it could hurt the party’s chances of holding on to the Senate.
Even though the move immediately angered immigration advocates, White House officials say that taking action before the elections could end up hurting broader reform efforts. “Because of the Republicans’ extreme politicization of this issue, the president believes it would be harmful to the policy itself and to the long-term prospects for comprehensive immigration reform to announce administrative action before the elections,” a White House official said, according to the New York Times. “Because he wants to do this in a way that’s sustainable, the president will take action on immigration before the end of the year.” President Obama is likely to talk about this issue during his appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.
Among those who are unhappy with the decision: Southern Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva, who said that Obama "placed political calculations over the hopes and needs of immigrant communities."
The full statement from Grijalva after the jump:
Today, President Obama placed political calculations over the hopes and needs of immigrant communities. He reneged on his own commitment in June to do what is right, and instead chose what is expedient, betraying the trust of some of the most vulnerable among us.
When the president pledged to act, he raised expectations among those struggling in our broken immigration system — he led them to believe that despite Republican intransigence, executive action was imminent, and their suffering would soon be addressed. In a word, he gave them hope.
His actions also led many in Congress to act under the assumption that he would keep his word. The Congressional Progressive Caucus, and many others, provided recommendations to the Department of Homeland Security on actions that could be taken. Promises were made to activists who have fought as hard as anyone to see this issue solved.
Now everyone is left wondering why those hopes were set aside so callously in a political calculation. The outcome of these senate races will not change the political landscape for immigration reform — whether won or lost, the president will still have to act alone to get this done.
The president’s actions leave those who looked to him for hope feeling alone, ignored and used. They are being asked to wait again when there are no patience left. Every day that goes by, more families are splintered and more kids are forced to grow up apart from their parents. No senate seat is worth that. None. So if executive action needs to wait for a political calculation, then deportations should too. It is the very least that the president can do.