Dems angry with Obama over immigration review delay

"The president promised one in 90 days and it should go forward in 90 days, notwithstanding the politics."

By Gabrielle Levy
Dems angry with Obama over immigration review delay
Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill., with a large hourglass going on the podium, calls on House GOP to allow a vote on immigration reform on May 30, 2014. (UPI/Gabrielle Levy)

WASHINGTON, May 30 (UPI) -- When President Obama ordered a delay in a review of deportation practices he hoped to give Congress time to pass a much-needed legislative fix for an immigration system that everyone agrees is broken.

But a day after he was rebuffed by House Republicans, Democrats showed they were just as frustrated with the decision.


At a press conference Friday meant to put pressure on House GOP leadership to allow a vote on the immigration package passed nearly a year ago in the Senate, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill., stopped just short of calling the delay a mistake.

"Look, every day people are deported," he said. "I met a woman in Richmond, Va., this Tuesday; her deportation date is June the 6th. She doesn't have any time for a delay. I say that we should have that review. The president promised one in 90 days and it should go forward in 90 days, notwithstanding the politics."

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Obama's decision to give Republicans a chance, Gutiérrez said, despite their having stonewalled immigration reform efforts at every turn, felt like betrayal.

"I've got to say that I thought it was a pretty grand gesture when you have the President of the United States Barack Obama basically turn his back on our petition to him to stop the deportations," Gutiérrez said, "Turn his back on the people here, standing here who have loved him, cherished him, voted for him, supported him and defended him, so that he can give the opportunity to those who have shown nothing but utter distain in most cases to him, that he wants to have an opportunity to enter into a dialogue."


Republicans have said they don't want to pass an immigration package because the president has used executive orders to direct Immigration Enforcement to deprioritize the deportations of non-criminal immigrants.

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"The end result of DHS's practices is that the American people have lost all confidence in this administration's willingness to enforce our current immigration laws or use any enhanced enforcement tools that Congress may give it," said Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., at a Homeland Security Oversight hearing Thursday. "This in turn has made it exceedingly difficult for Congress to fix our broken immigration system."

But for Gutiérrez, the president's gesture renders that excuse moot.

"You know, Republican Party, you said you didn't trust him," Gutiérrez said. "That that's why you couldn't move forward. You can't trust the president who will [fly in] the face those who have nurtured and supported him, to say yes to you, [and still] you can't trust him?"

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"I think that excuse has totally been evaporated with this action by the president."

Gutiérrez said he thought Obama should give Congress until the July 4th recess to act on immigration so that a bill might make it to a vote before the August recess. With just 55 legislative days left in the 113th Congress, time is running out -- he held up a giant hourglass to prove his point -- and then the president should "take his pen and sign the kind of executive orders that will bring justice, compassion and fairness to our community that has been denied it in the legislative process."


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