President Barack Obama's decision to back down from his promises to take executive action on immigration reform until after the November midterm election could backfire on him, said Latino leaders Saturday, who vowed they won't forget the president and Democrats' "attempts to fool them" when the elections roll around.
Early Saturday, Obama bowed to Democratic Party pressure
and reversed course on taking executive action on immigration reform until after the November midterm elections, after leaders voiced concerns that his rulings could cost Democrats their control of the Senate.
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Back in June, Obama had promised during a high-profile Rose Garden appearance that he would announce unilateral measures by summer's end if Congress did not enact reform legislation.
But while the White House blamed his reversal on "Republicans' extreme politicization of the issue," Latino groups blamed him and his fellow Democrats, reports The Hill.
"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."
Anger from Latino groups could further hinder Democrats' chances of holding the Senate this fall. Republicans need to take just nine seats, and many of those are being held by incumbent Democrats facing tough races as they seek re-election in traditionally "red" states.
Traditionally, the Latino vote leans Democratic, but this time around, matters may be different, adding even more problems for the party.
Frank Sharry, director of America's Voice and a staunch immigration activist, ripped Obama apart about the delay and said the Latino community is bitterly disappointed over his turnabout.
"We advocates didn’t make the reform promise; we just made the mistake of believing it," Sharry said. "The President and Senate Democrats have chosen politics over people; the status quo over solving real problems. It is hard to believe this litany of high expectations and broken promises will be mended by the end of the year," he said.
Sharry added that Obama's decision have raised the stakes and "our determination" this election year as calls started to mount for Latinos to mobilize against the Democratic Party.
Obama's delay is a "betrayal," Arturo Carmona, director of Presente.org, an online Latino organizing group, told The Hill. Further, he complained that it is "one of the single biggest attack on Latino families by the Democratic Party in recent memory."
Meanwhile, the PICO National Network's Campaign for Citizenship said Obama and his fellow Democrats are treating undocumented immigrants and the Latino community as "political pawns."
One Democrat, Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, had urged Obama to move ahead with immigration reform, telling his colleagues to stand back and let Obama act, despite their worries over the midterm election.
"We cannot be a pro-immigrant party only when it is convenient," he wrote in an op-ed piece for The Guardian
this week. "The Democrats cannot say that we stand with immigrants if that secretly means we only stand with immigrants in odd-numbered years or when southern Democrats complain. We should be transparent and act before Election Day, so voters do not feel duped or tricked. If we wait until after the election — especially if we are going to lose seats, as predicted — it will seem like sour grapes."
But now, he appears to be joining the camp of Latino critics on Obama's decision, saying he'll hold a press conference in the president's hometown of Chicago Monday along with immigrant families "affected by the administration's actions on immigration and deportations."
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