Díaz-Balart: Obama May Issue 'Very Controversial Executive Orders' on Immigration

March 21, 2014 - 6:45 AM

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President Obama is interviewed by Telemundo anchor and immigration-reform advocate José Díaz-Balart at the White House. (White House photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Last week, President Obama directed his Homeland Security Department to examine its current deportation practices -- "to see how it can conduct enforcement more humanely, within the confines of the law," the White House announced on March 13.

But with immigration reform stalled in Congress, what more can Obama do?

"I think he's going to wait until August," said Telemundo anchor and immigration-reform advocate José Díaz-Balart. And if Congress doesn't act on immigration reform by then, "I wouldn't be surprised if he starts making some very controversial executive orders to mitigate the pain of millions of people who face deportation," Díaz-Balart told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Thursday.

Díaz-Balart suggested that Obama could scrap a Homeland Security program called Secure Communities, which allows state and local police to check the immigration status of people  they detain for other reasons.

"That has caused more thn 150,000 people to be deported," Díaz-Balart said. "And maybe the president could tackle that specifically. That would mitigate immediately in local communities people who have minor traffic infractions and find themselves deported."

Secure Communities was created by the Bush administration, not by Congress.

Díaz-Balart mentioned families that are "divided and destroyed" every day in this country when relatives who came here illegally are sent back home and forced to leave their American-born children or other American relatives.

Díaz-Balart said he believes the president not only "feels the pain" of deportations -- he also feels the sting of criticism from groups such as the National Council of La Raza, which recently called him "deporter in chief."

"That, I think, has hurt the president and his message that he is the person who supports immigration reform...I think that does cause him to say, well let me see what I can do if nothing is done by August. Maybe I'll have to step forward, even take controversial decisions that right now I'm not willing to take."