On the one-year anniversary of President Barack Obama’s executive action that granted temporary visas to some illegal immigrants, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) said the deferred action program was essentially a dry run for broader comprehensive immigration reform.
The White House policy prohibits deportation for illegal immigrants who came to the country before they were 16 and are under 30 years of age. Gutierrez, one of seven Representatives in the House working on drafting an immigration reform bill, said the deferred action program was not only a “turning point,” but he acknowledged, “Politically it was a huge boost to the President and helped galvanize Democrats around immigration reform and putting a stop to needless deportations that break up families and waste resources. “
“[The deferred action program] was an important test for the pro-immigrant movement in this country,” Gutierrez said in a statement. “When we get a broader immigration bill passed this year, it is going to require a massive civil undertaking to get people in the system and on the books, but [the deferred action program] was a good dress rehearsal.”
Nearly 400,000 illegal immigrants have received temporary visas under Obama’s deferred action program to date. Immigration reform advocates have indicated they may pressure the President to enact another executive action to give temporary visas to all of the country’s estimated 11 million immigrants if Congress does not pass comprehensive immigration reform after the August recess. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), part of the team that wrote the Senate’s immigration bill, suggested Obama may choose to take that course unilaterally on Tuesday.