Immigration advocates and some Democratic senators have called on President Barack Obama to stop deportations of illegal immigrants.
In a speech Tuesday night, National Council of La Raza President Janet Murguia stopped defending the president and urged him to end deportations under his administration, which they say has been about 2 million — more than any other president, Politico
"For the president, I think his legacy is at stake here," Murguia told Politico. "We consider him the deportation president, or the deporter-in-chief."
The statement earned Murguia phone calls from White House officials, including Obama's close adviser, Valerie Jarrett, saying they were "very disappointed" with the comments, according to Politico
Obama was asked about Murguia's comments directly while he was being interviewed about Obamacare by Spanish-language television reporters, saying that he has pushed for immigration reform since he took office.
"I am the champion-in-chief of comprehensive immigration reform," Obama said. "But what I've said in the past remains true, which is until Congress passes a new law, then I am constrained in terms of what I am able to do."
In spite of frustration with Obama, Murguia said her group still sees itself "as key allies to this White House."
Three Democratic senators, who co-authored an immigration measure in the Senate that is stalled in the House, also want to see the president do more to reduce the number of deportations.
"While we continue waiting for the House of Representatives to wake up and move on immigration reform legislation, I urge the president to take action today and halt needless deportations that are splitting apart our families and communities," Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey said Tuesday at the same La Raza event where Murguia spoke, according to Politico
Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois told reporters Wednesday that illegal immigrants should not be deported for "technical violations of immigration law," only "if there's a criminal record."
Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York echoed the same sentiment in a statement to Politico
"If the House recesses in September without passing immigration reform, in October the administration should stop deporting hard-working and law-abiding people who would be covered by the Senate bill," the New York Democrat said.
According to Politico, the White House says that Obama is hesitant to make such a unilateral move because Republican lawmakers have cited their distrust of Obama as one of the reasons they have yet to move forward with immigration reform.
"Here's the issue that all Republicans agree on: We don't trust the president to enforce the law," said Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin in early February
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