Thursday, April 28, 2011

Obama Will Not Use Executive Authority To Stop Deportations Of Undocumented Students And Their Parents

Photo by Pete Souza

Influencial Hispanics failed to convince Obama to use executive power to stop massive deportations.

By H. Nelson Goodson
April 28, 2011

Washington, D.C. - On Thursday for the second time in ten days, President Barack H. Obama failed to exercise his executive authority to stop massive deportations of noncriminal undocumented immigrants, students and their parents. Obama met with a group of Hispanics from accross the U.S. at the White House. The Latinos present at the meeting are recognized by White House officials as influencial and were there to discuss fixing the broken federal immigration system in the country, including comprehensive immigration reform for the future. Apparently, those attending the meeting lacked enough influence and failed to push for Obama to use his executive authority to stop deportations citing the president "can not change the law."
According to the Readout press release of the meeting, President Obama told the attendees that the only way to fix what’s broken about our immigration system is through legislative action in Congress, and that "he cannot unilaterally change the law." He made it clear that while his Administration continues to improve our legal immigration system, secure our borders, and enhance our immigration enforcement so that it is more effectively and sensibly focused on criminals, more voices are needed to elevate the immigration debate beyond the politics, false debates, and rhetoric that have dominated the issue.
The President urged meeting participants to help elevate the debate, and to reach out in their unique capacities and in a public way to forge partnerships across sectors and across demographics. There was broad agreement that more voices are needed to change the tone of the debate so that Congress acts to fix the broken system in a way that upholds America's history as nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. The President reaffirmed that he will continue to work to forge bipartisan consensus and will intensify efforts to lead a civil debate on this issue in the coming weeks and months.
The President talked about the broken immigration system including concerns he heard about when he met with leaders from the law enforcement, faith and business sectors last week.
Absent from the White House meeting was U.S. Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) who has publicly stated that Obama could used his executive authority to stop deportations of noncriminal undocumented immigrants, students attending colleges and parents of U.S. born children. Gutierrez went on a three state listening tour on April 16, and continued to advocate and vowed to pursue the passage of the DREAM Act. Last year, the DREAM Act was killed in the U.S. Senate, because it failed to get the needed 60 votes to prevent a filibuster inorder for the bill to proceed for a Senate vote.
In his stop in Wisconsin, Gutierrez said, President Obama has the executive privilege to use discretion and to stop the mass deportations of undocumented parents of more than 4 million U.S. born children. President Obama hasn't kept his word in passing immigration reform or hasn't used his discretion to allow millions of undocumented students to stay in the country while Congress can work out differences and pass the DREAM Act.
President Obama could actually issue an executive pardon as well for those in the country illegally. Being in the country illegally is a federal civil offense and not a felony offense. Obama can even issue an executive order for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to put priority in detaining and deporting undocumented criminals convicted of serious crimes such as felonies. Instead of ICE and DHS concentrating and detaining noncriminal undocumented immigrants and students raised in the U.S. and pursuing a college education to become productive residents.
About, 400 thousand undocumented immigrants are deported every year from the U.S. and with the Secure Communities Program (SCP) implemented by ICE, the deportations could rise to 800,000 per year. Gutierrez criticized the SCP for over reaching and not following the memorandum agreement with states including Wisconsin.
Under the SCP agreement, the program specified that undocumented immigrants considered criminals and convicted of a felony should be targeted for deportation. But in many cases noncriminals have been processed under SCP and hard working undocumented immigrants have been deported, separating families, according to Gutierrez.
Next Sunday on May 1st, over 100 cities around the nation will hold massive marches and rallies calling for immigrant and workers rights. Organizers want President Obama to stop massive deportations and they are also opposing similar Arizona SB 1070 immigration enforcement laws in their states. The law allows state and local law enforcement officers to ask for legal status documentation from people they suspect are illegally in the country during traffic stops or general investigations.

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