Faith groups have joined with immigration activists to speak out against President Obama’s decision to delay executive action on immigration until after midterm elections, criticizing the president who may remain the movement’s only hope for action.
“Because of Congress’ failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform, family members remain separated, employers continue to face challenges meeting their needs, our nation’s security is weakened and undocumented young people who wish to contribute to the only nation they know as home and their families -- live with uncertainty about their future,” Weinstein said. “The time for action on immigration reform is long past due.”
Acknowledging the difficult political climate the president has to negotiate, Eddie Carmona, campaign manager for the faith-based PICO National Network’s Campaign for Citizenship, still leveled a harsh critique against the president. In an interview with Fox News, Carmona said, “The odds of us being let down by President Obama were high. … The president and the Senate Democrats have made it very clear that undocumented immigrants and Latinos are simply viewed as political pawns.”
Obama anticipated the backlash, appearing on “Meet the Press” on Sunday to explain the reasoning behind the delay. Although many feel he was acting to protect Congressional Democrats who hope to avoid the controversial issue during their campaigns, the president insisted that the delay is necessary in order to make the eventual action more compelling.
“What I’m saying is that I’m going to act because it’s the right thing for the country,” Obama told host Chuck Todd. “But it’s going to be more sustainable and more effective if the public understands what the facts are on immigration, what we’ve done on unaccompanied children and why it’s necessary.”
Coverage of Obama’s announcement was heavy on activists’ negative reaction. Stories also addressed the key role Obama will have to play if immigration reform is to happen at all. In other words, immigration activists have to be careful about how they treat a powerful politician who is on their side of the issue.
“Immigration activists have to balance the anger and resentment over what they see as a broken promise with the reality that eventual unilateral presidential action is their only hope for real reform any time soon,” BBC News reported.
The Huffington Post cited Simon Rosenberg, president of the White House-allied New Democratic Network/New Policy Institute, for his support of the delay. Rosenberg said that the importance of immigration reform should temper reaction to postponing action until after November’s election.
“At the end of the day, we are talking about a six-week delay on an issue of enormous consequence,” he said. “It is more important that it get done right than fast.”
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