Democrats Urge Obama to Cut Deportations

Friday, 27 Jun 2014 12:29 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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House Democrats are pushing President Barack Obama to use his executive power to curb deportations that are tearing families apart.

But Obama is holding off on taking action in the hope that GOP House Speaker John Boehner will finally move ahead with a sweeping immigration package, The Hill reported.

But on Friday, exactly one year after the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration overhaul opening a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented aliens, Democrats believe that Republicans have no intention of passing a similar bill in the lower chamber.

Instead Democrats now want Obama to slash the number of deportations, which have steadily increased under his watch. Officials deported 343,020 people in the United States illegally from Oct. 1, 2012, to Sept. 7, 2013, the most recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement data show.

"We're deporting too many people," Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nader of New York told The Hill. "We're breaking up families, and [the president] ought to do whatever's in his executive power to change what is a bad policy. It’s the right thing to do."

Rep. Filemon Vela of Texas, who is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus representing a border district, called on Obama to act immediately.

"He needs to be looking at it now," said Vela, while noting that Republicans have no immigration bills in the pipeline "whatsoever."

On Wednesday, Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois took to the GOP-controlled House floor to attack Republicans for their failure to craft immigration legislation.

"Your chance to play a role in how immigration and deportation policies are carried out this year is over," he said. "It is now up to the president to act."

But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she is "still hopeful” that Boehner will introduce a comprehensive immigration bill before a potential July 31 cutoff in the House.

"I believe that the speaker is of good faith on this," the California Democrat said, according to The Hill.

The Democratic push for a decrease in deportations comes as tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants from Central America flood the U.S. southern border every week, creating a humanitarian crisis and making an immigration deal between the GOP and Democrats even less likely.

The surge of immigrants, many of them children, may be the reason behind a new Gallup poll showing that the number of people who want legal immigration levels to decrease has soared.

Compared to last year's survey, the findings showed that 41 percent of Americans, a 6 percentage point spike, want a reduction in immigration.

Thirty-three percent think the current number of new immigrants is acceptable, while 22 percent wanted more people to get the chance to emigrate to the United States, a figure that is trending higher.

"Immigration is central to who Americans are as a people, and what the United States represents, and by and large Americans view immigration as positive for the country," according to a Gallup statement.

"But deciding how many new immigrants to welcome each year can be controversial, particularly when unemployment is high, and seeming competition for good jobs already fierce."

The survey polled 1.027 people from June 5 to June 8 and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

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