Hispanic Lawmakers to Obama: Take ‘Executive Action’ to Stop All Deportations

July 10, 2014 - 4:02 PM

Luis Gutierrez

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) spoke at a press conference on July 10, 2014 in Washington, D.C., calling on President Barack Obama to stop deportations of illegal aliens in the United States using executive orders. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – Reps. Luis Guiterrez (D-Ill.) and Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) joined immigration activists Thursday in calling on President Barack Obama to stop deportations and allow illegal aliens to have work permits. It's the latest effort to compel the president to make sweeping changes to immigration law through executive orders.

The Democrats also want Obama's Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy to apply to parents of so-called Dreamers and others, putting them on a path to citizenship as spelled out in the immigration bill (S.744) as passed by the Senate in June 2013. The House has not taken up that bill.

“I believe the president of the United States can take the kind of broad, executive action that can help millions of people stop their deportation and be in deportation proceedings, No. 1, or possibly ever be deported, and give them a work permit,” said Guiterrez, who with Grijalva is also a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC).

“Now it is the authority of the president to provide that security, that comfort to millions and millions of families,” Grijalva said.

In December 2013, Grijalva and 17 other lawmakers sent a letter to Obama asking him to halt all deportations until Congress had passed legislation on “comprehensive immigration reform.”

The letter also called for expanding those eligible for DACA to include “family and neighbors” of children brought here illegally by their parents.

“We 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,” the letter states. “We look to you to firmly contribute to advancing inclusion for immigrants by suspending deportations and expanding DACA.”

In April, the CHC sent a 6-page memorandum to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson seeking “administrative relief and more humane enforcement practices” from and of immigration laws.

The list of recommendations basically would protect all illegal aliens except those with disqualifying crimes from being detained or deported and also calls for an end to the Secure Communities program, a highly successful program, according to DHS’s Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement.

“Under Secure Communities, the FBI automatically sends the fingerprints to DHS to check against its immigration databases,” the ICE website said about the program.

“If these checks reveal that an individual is unlawfully present in the United States or otherwise removable due to a criminal conviction, ICE takes enforcement action – prioritizing the removal of individuals who present the most significant threats to public safety as determined by the severity of their crime, their criminal history, and other factors – as well as those who have repeatedly violated immigration laws,” it added.

Both Gutierrez and Grijalva said that the immigration crisis on the border involving a recent surge of illegal aliens crossing the U.S. border with Mexico, including more than 50,000 unaccompanied children, should not stop immigration reforms but encourage it.

“I also want to be sure that we do not allow the humanitarian crisis on our border to impact or somehow deteriorate the momentum of our movement or our petition for the president,” Gutierrez said at the press conference. “If anything, that humanitarian crisis on the border should urge the president to do more and more quickly and to be broader.”

“The fact of the matter is these kids are here now, and by law and by value, this country has an obligation – both a moral imperative and a legal obligation – to provide custodial care and process these kids correctly,” Grijalva said.