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President Obama Delaying Executive Action?

Earlier this year, President Obama announced that the Department of Homeland Security would review its deportation policies and procedures in order to find ways to make immigration enforcement more "humane". A few months later, he delayed the release of the review. The president thought that changes made to immigration enforcement would kill any chance of House Republicans passing an immigration reform bill. Well, it seems the same thing is happening all over again.

On June 30th, in a speech in the Rose Garden at the White House, President Obama gave immigration activists hope that he would use executive action if Congress refused to pass an immigration bill, saying, "I expect their recommendations before the end of summer and I intend to adopt those recommendations without further delay". It was speculated that he would expand his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to those with extensive family and community ties, or that he would reduce the backlog for foreigners waiting for family based green cards, or that he would increase the quota for H-1B visas.

We all got excited. Finally, something was happening. It wasn't as good as Congressional reform, but it was better than nothing. Countless articles, think pieces, blogs, and twitter posts were written in anticipation, fawning over every remark the President made, looking for clues as to what exactly he would do. We couldn't help ourselves--we were hopeful that now was finally the time. 

Alas, summer has come to an end and it appears that the President is, again, delaying. This time it seems to be out of concern for red state Democrats who are in tight races and Obama is worried to rile up the Republican base right before the midterm election. Greg Sargent of the Washington Post explains, "In the core red states that will decide Senate control, there are very few genuinely persuadable voters left. Base turnout will be decisive. Any action by Obama risks further inflaming the GOP base".

Ok, sure, that makes sense. But we've been for meaningful reform for years. In that time, millions of immigrants have been deported. Millions of foreigners have been mired in visa backlogs and frustrated by priority dates and worried about aging out. Thousands of high skilled workers have been unlucky and unable to get a visa.  Thousands of immigrants have been detained every day to meet an arbitrary quota. The list goes on and on.

It's hard not to be cynical about the state of immigration reform. Every time it looks like it's finally about to happen, something comes along and derails it. The escalation of the war in Syria, the governement shutdown, Republican backlash, the border crisis. You name it and it's probably been used as an excuse for why immigration reform isn't possible right now. We've been told to be patient, to just hold on and trust and it will happen.

Well, we are tired of waiting. Immigration reform is one of those rare issues that has wide ranging support in the business, tech, Latino, Asian, African, law enforcement, and religious communities. It doesn't deserve to be put on the back burner. Immigration reform will have a significant impact on the lives of millions of Americans and our national economy. It's too important to delay.

Somehow, despite all this, we still have hope. We have to.


"Obama Asks Homeland Security Secretary to Delay Deportation Review" by Michael D. Shear. The New York Times.

"Obama might be delaying immigration action, again" by Dara Lind. Vox.

"Morning Plum: Why top Dems are worried about politics of deportations" by Greg Sargent.

"Eliminate the Detention Bed Quota". National Immigrant Justice Center.