WASHINGTON, D.C. — House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) joined executive amnesty activists and several Democratic lawmakers to call on President Obama to act on executive amnesty Wednesday.
“I join with my colleagues in urging the president to take action. And I urge my Republican friends to understand that action will be temporary and can be replaced by a bill that we pass through the Congress of the United States. But what the President needs to do is give immediate and significant relief to those families that are being wrenched apart and living in fear,” the number two Democrat in the House said.
Hoyer added that he will proudly support Obama “acting in a big, bold manner.”
When asked about Republican arguments that unilateral action by the president on immigration would “poison the well,” Hoyer shrugged off the concerns, saying the message he got from the midterm elections was that the American people want the Congress to work together to improve the economy and make the country more stable.
“This is not a surprise the president is discussing taking action regarding immigration, he has said the system is broken, he’s been waiting for a long period of time, he believes he has the authority — and I share that belief — he has he authority to take certain actions,” Hoyer said.
He invoked the names of previous Republican presidents like Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush who he said took “certain actions.”
“He has the authority to take some action which will relieve part of the brokenness, if there’s such a word, of the system, which everybody agrees is broken,” Hoyer said. “So to say that if he does something that is within his power, and that he believes is good for the country is going to therefore lead my Republican colleagues to not cooperate to make the country better and more economically secure I think is not what the American people want.”
“I will be proud to support the President of the United States in acting in a big, bold manner, and then work with my colleges in the House of Representatives to make sure we have a system that works for America and for all people” he added.
Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA) called on Obama to “go big” and “allow these families to live in peace, allow them to live here as a family”
“Mr. President we ask you, please you said you were going to do something. We beg you, do it now, there is urgency and go big. And especially remember the military families. Military families that have been divided because you haven’t acted yet. Act now,” he said.
Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL) called on Obama to instruct the Department of Defense to allow illegal immigrants who have been granted deferred status “DREAMers” to enlist in the military.
“The time to act is now,” he said.
Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) stressed the need for Obama to ”be bold” with his actions due to Congress’ inaction.
“While there will be agents of hatred and bigotry that oppose any action by the president, keep this in mind, Mr. President, no matter what use of prosecutorial discretion you make or no matter what you do the forces that oppose you will oppose you. So you should go as big and bold as possible to address our broken immigration system, within the powers that you already have,” he said. “Particularly so that we can remove the shadow of fear from so many families of veterans that honorably serve our United States military.”
Lawmakers and advocates at the press conference sought to tie Veterans Day to the issue of executive amnesty. They argued that mixed immigration status military families create a situation where soldiers fear their family members could be deported while they are deployed.
“Today, the day after Veterans Day we have veterans with us from mixed family status, they serve our country, take the ultimate risk and some have made the ultimate sacrifice and still have to worry and be concerned about the status of their families — they might be deported because of their immigration statues in this country — that is not only insulting it is sinful,” Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) said.
“We’ve reached the point now that waiting and waiting and waiting is not the solution. The solution is for the president — who I support — to go big, protect all families, and in particular hold our military families as an example to the rest of the nation, this is sacrifice, this is contribution to the nation, and this is why I am doing it,” he added.