President Barack Obama is serious about changing the country's immigration policy by year's end, according to lawmakers who attended a meeting Thursday on Capitol Hill.
The president intends to go "as far as he can under the law" to alter the policy after the midterm elections, according to The Washington Post,
which reports a deal could be done by the end of the year.
White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough, domestic policy chief Cecilia Munoz, and White House General Counsel Neil Eggleston met with congressmen from the Hispanic Caucus on Thursday and spoke of Obama's plans for immigration.
The meeting came on the heels of Obama's decision to put off announcing
his immigration reform plans until after the November midterm elections, which showed he bowed to Democrats' concerns that his plans could affect who is voted in — and out — of office. Democrats are worried about how many seats Republicans could take in the House and Senate — the GOP needs to pick up six seats to gain control of the upper chamber.
Obama's decision to put off the immigration announcement was a political one, according to a White House official.
"The reality the president has had to weigh is that we're in the midst of the political season," the official said. "And because of the Republicans' extreme politicization of this issue, the president believes it would be harmful to the policy itself and to the long-term prospects for comprehensive immigration reform to announce administrative action before the elections."
Thursday's meeting focused solely on immigration, according to the Post report, and emotions ran high. Rep. Luis Gutierrez said the meeting went "as well as can be expected," while another Democrat termed it a "frank and stern" discussion. One lawmaker present reportedly cried.
McDonough would not reveal what he said in the meeting, but the Post report says part of the discussion touched on what Democrats are hoping to avoid in two months — losing seats in the House and losing control of the Senate. When asked if Obama would still use his executive authority to alter the nation's immigration policy in that scenario, McDonough reportedly said he would.
disagree with Obama's decision to delay immigration reform.
"To wait nine more weeks means that I must again look my mother in the eye and see the fear she has about living under the threat of deportation every day," said Cristina Jimenez, director of the advocacy group United We Dream. "But Dreamers will not soon forget the president and Democrats' latest failure and their attempts to fool the Latino community, and we remain resolute in fighting for justice for our families."
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