Obama blasts GOP over blocked immigration plan

"Instead of trying to hold hostage funding... let’s get on with passing comprehensive immigration reform.’” - President Obama
By Doug G. Ware  |  Updated Feb. 26, 2015 at 10:05 AM
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MIAMI, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama on Wednesday openly challenged the GOP during a trip to South Florida, over the party's opposition to his plan to defer deportation of millions of undocumented persons in the U.S.

During a town hall event in Miami, Obama leveled his criticisms in response to questions about immigration reform -- something the president says is vitally important to Democrats and Republicans.

"Over the long term, this is going to get solved because at some point there's going to be a President Rodriguez or there's going to be a President Chen," Obama said, noting that the Latino vote could double by 2030.

Obama's plan calls for the protection of as many as five million immigrants against deportation, which Obama says grants numerous benefits to the U.S. However, reform is a divisive issue, with many Republicans against it.

Wednesday, Obama vivaciously bashed the GOP for their fight, criticizing many Republican governors and a Texas judge who are trying to block the White House's executive order. Obama also threatened to veto a potential vote in Congress that might question whether Obama's executive actions are legal or not, the Washington Post reported.

With immigration, the White House may seem to be up against a very formidable challenge in the GOP. Even if Obama's executive actions took effect, they only offer temporary relief for immigrants. Any permanent measure would have to be passed by Congress -- in which Republicans hold the majority.

The Texas judge who blocked Obama's order did so just as it was set to take effect.

"This is just one federal judge. We have appealed it very aggressively. We're going to be as aggressive as we can," Obama said. "We said to Republicans... 'Instead of trying to hold hostage funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which is so important for our national security, fund that and let's get on with passing comprehensive immigration reform.'"

Democrats say Republicans are trying to piggyback the immigration issue onto legislation needed to fund the vital Homeland Security Department, which will run out of money Friday if action isn't taken. Republicans are demanding that Obama sign that legislation, which includes language that would block Obama's plan and strip some of the White House's existing protections for undocumented immigrants.

Senate leaders Wednesday proposed a bipartisan plan that would separate the two issues -- immigration and DHS funding -- so that favoring one won't require excluding or crippling the other.

Obama appealed to certain Republicans who are potential presidential candidates next year -- such as Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who favors immigration reform -- and asked them to try and bring the GOP around on this issue. Obama also pleaded directly to voters themselves for the same help.

"When they start asking for votes, the first question should be, 'Do you really intend to deport 11 million people? And if not, what is your plan to make sure that they have the ability to have a legal status, stay with their families, and ultimately contribute to the United States of America?'" he said.

The town hall discussion was hosted by MSNBC and Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo.

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