(CNSNews.com)-- Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) says President Obama is doing “the best he can” to enforce the nation’s immigration laws, even though over 52,000 people, many of them unaccompanied children from Central America, entered the U.S. illegally and were taken into custody by Border Patrol agents since last October.
Becerra was one of a handful of Democratic members of Congress who spoke at “Witness Wednesday,” an event on Capitol Hill described by organizers as a chance “to stand in solidarity with millions of unemployed Americans” and to “give voice to the pain of the unemployed by reading their stories.”
“In solidarity with the unemployed, should the federal government enforce the immigration law against aliens working illegally in the United States?” CNSNews.com asked Becerra.
“The President is doing the best he can to try and enforce the law,” the congressman replied. “For example, he has ramped up the deportations of the number of individuals who are in this country who have committed crimes, who are public safety menaces, and he’s done a much better job of trying to make sure we’re able to deport those individuals.
“The difficulty is when you have a system that’s broken and you’re working with laws under a broken system, it makes it really tough to do it as efficiently as you can,” Becerra added.
However, that same day, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said that he is considering including President Obama’s executive actions on illegal immigration in a possible House lawsuit accusing the president of overstepping his constitutional authority.
“The Constitution makes it clear that a president’s job is to faithfully execute the laws,” Boehner said in a recent memo to House members. “In my view, the president has not faithfully executed the laws.”
Union leaders attending the rally were divided on whether they thought that the nation’s immigration laws should be enforced to make it easier for the 9.5 million people who are currently unemployed in the U.S. to find jobs.
“In solidarity with the members of your union, should the administration enforce the immigration law against aliens working illegally in the United States?” CNSNews.com asked Gregory Cendana, executive director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA).
“I think there’s a misconception that undocumented people are taking away jobs, and that’s not necessarily the case,” Cendana responded.
However, a 2011 report by the Pew Hispanic Center estimates that there were over 8 million illegal immigrants employed in the United States in 2010.
Another union official, Kevin Bradshaw, who is president of the Memphis chapter of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM), told CNSNews.com that he did not think anyone should be working illegally in the U.S.
"I mean, the word itself, if you're illegal, you're illegal," he said. “It’s not fair to working American citizens who are trying to get gainful employment, who can’t even get it if we have illegals working here illegally... I don’t know too much about all the specifics of the immigration law, but I'm just saying it’s like an injustice somewhere."
According to the Center for Effective Government, which sponsored the Witness Wednesday event, over 3.3 million Americans have lost their federal unemployment emergency benefits because they have been out of work for over six months.