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Obama braces for immigration battle with GOP

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Obama braces for immigration battle with GOP

President Obama’s executive action to shield up to 4 million more immigrants from deportation could build up goodwill with Latinos ahead of an expected immigration battle with the GOP. 

President Obama is bracing for a political and legal battle with Republicans next year over his executive actions on immigration, but as he seeks to rally support against the anticipated assault, a lingering frustration among some Latinos could mean renewed pressure on him to do even more to protect illegal immigrants.

After six years in which his administration took a tough line on deportations, Obama’s decision to shield up to 4 million more undocumented immigrants from being removed from the country was in part aimed at repairing damage with a key constituency whose support for the president has plummeted.

Their backing will be critical for Obama in the face of GOP efforts in the coming months to block his deferred-action program by denying federal funding for it or to overturn the measure through legislation. Beyond immigration, the president also has been counting on Latinos to support his health-care law.

In both cases, the administration’s strategy is to enroll as many people as possible to make it politically difficult for Republicans to achieve their goals — and in the case of immigration, to put pressure on Congress to find a longer-lasting legislative solution in Obama’s final two years.

But as he attempts to shift the burden back to the GOP, Obama continues to face tough questions from Hispanic activists about why he had not done more and done it sooner. Of particular concern to the advocates are those who were left out of the new deportation protections.

 

Obama’s response to these competing forces could complicate his record on what he had hoped would be a legacy issue for his presidency. Recently in Nashville, where the president was touting the benefits of immigration to local communities, he was confronted by influential Spanish-language television host Jorge Ramos of Univision.

“You destroyed many families,” Ramos said, noting that Obama’s administration has deported more than 2 million people. “They called you ‘deporter in chief.’ . . . You could have stopped the deportations.”

“No, no, no. That is not true,” Obama protested, criticizing Ramos for wanting “simple, quick answers” to the complicated and deep-rooted problem of illegal immigration.

“It does a disservice,” the president added, “because it makes the assumption that the political process is one that can easily be moved around, depending on the will of one person, and that’s not how things work.”

There is no denying the widespread enthusiasm among immigrant communities for Obama’s executive actions, and advocates have praised him for acting on his own to limit deportations. When combined with those covered by Obama’s similar 2012 program for younger immigrants, nearly half of the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants could qualify for deportation relief and gain work permits — twice the number that benefited from a 1986 law that allowed them to seek citizenship. Thousands lined up in Los Angeles over the weekend for an information session to learn whether they qualified.

Yet some advocacy groups, such as the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, have vowed to maintain pressure on the president to take further actions to protect the rest. Hecklers interrupted Obama during recent immigration rallies in Las Vegas and Chicago, demanding that he expand relief to more undocumented people.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Ramos called Obama’s actions “the most important immigration measures in almost 50 years.” But he said that “it’s a mixed emotion that many Latinos have. They are very grateful to this president, but they are also very pained and resentful for those millions of families that have been destroyed.”

 

He added that Obama’s legacy on immigration will include a “footnote” on deportations that “is measured in human lives.”

Such criticism clearly frustrates Obama and his advisers, who argue that the president went to the legal limits last month when he announced that undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents who have lived in the country for at least five years are eligible to apply for three-year deportation waivers.


Published by , 16.12.2014 at 15:02
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John Ellis
John Ellis 16 December 14 16:41 USA was always country of immigrants! There is no massive & integral nation at all! Text hided expand
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Lily Grant
Lily Grant 16 December 14 18:24 Latinos already became the part of our nation. Text hided expand
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