by Moses Apsan, Esq.
May 28, 2011 - New York- Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), leads a group of Democrats urging President Obama to tone down his aggressive deportation strategy, especially when children are in school or families would be separated. Gutierrez acknowledges that congress has failed to correct the broken immigration laws, but also cast blame on the President and the rest of the executive branch for not using powers granted under the constitution.
"While we must work to pass comprehensive immigration reform to fix our broken system, we must also stop needlessly deporting the parents and the spouses of U.S. citizens — and others who are here, who are studying and working and raising families and contributing to our country … We are asking the president — who we know is on the side of the immigrants — to use his power now to stop these deportations," Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) a member of the group told reporters Wednesday outside the Capitol.
Gutierrez, recently launched a 20 cities national tour to demonstrate the plight of illegal immigrants to, announced Wednesday that he's including 10 additional cities to the tour. He explained that the reason or this massive tour is "to have their stories heard until they finally penetrate the White House and we finally penetrate the consciousness of the president."
They requested certain immediate actions; specifically:
- Deportation deferrals for the 1 million illegal-immigrant students who would be eligible under the proposed DREAM Act,. This bill creates a pathway for legal status for college students who entered the U.S. before the age of 16, graduate high school and agrees to go to college for two years or two years in the military. Last December the DREAM Act bill passed the House, but was derailed in the Senate, following a GOP filibuster.
- Create a definition of "extreme hardship" cases, which is used in many deportations to permit the person to remain in the country or to return after having been deported, a designation allowing those targeted for deportation to remain in the country. Current there is no specific definition of extreme hardship, causing uneven results in these cases. "The president should define extreme hardship today," Gutierrez said. "He has the power. We don't need any more legislative action here [on that issue]."Obama has been making efforts toward comprehensive immigration reform.
Obama recently visited El Paso, Texas and delivered speech calling on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, including the DREAM Act.
"There is a consensus around fixing what’s broken," he said. "Now we need Congress to catch up to a train that’s leaving the station."
In recent weeks, President Obama has met with lawmakers, business and religious leaders in seeking out a solution that's evaded democratic and republican presidents alike.
Just last month, Gutierrez threatened that he could hold back support for Obama in the upcoming election if the White House doesn't work more aggressively for comprehensive immigration reform.
In El Paso, the president stated "Regardless of how they came, the overwhelming majority of these folks are just trying to earn a living and provide for their families … but they’ve broken the rules, and have cut in front of the line. And the truth is, the presence of so many illegal immigrants makes a mockery of all those who are trying to immigrate legally."
"The laws are broken, but it doesn't mean that we continue to break up families… [T]hese are families, they are not criminals," said Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.).