Democrats calling on Obama to delay taking executive action on immigration for political reasons must “step aside,” Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) and other immigration activists argued Wednesday.
“I say to the Democrats, stand aside. Let the president make the decision. Let him announce it and stop this — stopping the progress of our community toward justice. Just step aside,” Gutiérrez said on a conference call with immigration reform activists and reporters organized by America’s Voice.
“Because it is better that the president make the decision now, clearly before the American public, in a transparent manner, before the election and then letting our democratic system — people know what that public policy is before they go to the election,” he explained, questioning the wisdom of waiting, if Democrats lose seats in the House and Senate.
Gutiérrez stressed that Democrats cannot be afraid to stand up for “what we believe in as Democrats,” saying that they need to take their explanations to the American people and tell them why such actions are necessary.
Clarissa Martínez-De-Castro of the National Council of La Raza echoed Gutiérrez’s sentiment, saying news that some are pushing for Obama to delay taking executive action on immigration makes activists “deeply disappointed.”
According to Martínez-De-Castro, if Democrats convince Obama to delay his executive actions, they will co-own “inaction and the devastation that continues to be reeked on our community” with Republicans.
“Where there is no speculation is about the impact that inaction is having everyday and about the fact that the president said he was ready to take bold action,” Martínez-De-Castro said. “And a few Democrats should not stand in the way and by doing so rather than let Republicans solidify and cement the tarnishing of their brand join in that race to the bottom.”
In recent days, the White House has appeared to waver on President Obama’s assertion that he would issue his executive actions on immigration at the end of summer, amid concerns that doing so would be politically damaging to Democrats facing tight races in red states.
When asked to name the Democrats who need to step aside, Gutiérrez said, “any and all Democrats who have asked Obama to delay. Whether they have done it publicly or unbeknownst to us.”
America’s Voice executive director Frank Sharry doubled down, arguing that running on immigration reform would be a political plus for Democrats and that delaying executive action on immigration would be “bad politics.”
“There is one thing that we have all learned, that most Democrats have learned, sometimes the hard way. Is that the way Democrats win politically on immigration reform is to lean into the issue. Is to be problem solver,” Sharry said.
“The ball is in the president’s court,” added Lorella Praeli, director of policy and advocacy United We Dream. “Is he going to lead with courage, is he going to show the American people that there is a key distinction here between these two political parties. Or is he going to succumb to Republicans’ threats and to fear and continue put politics over families.”
Praeli noted that activists’ demands for leadership from the Obama administration have been met with “false hope and a lack of political backbone.”
She went on to promise that DREAMers are “ready to escalate.”
“If it is true that Democrats are playing a big roll in trying influence the president and get him to not make an announcement as he has promised on his own deadline, then we will be ready to take that fight with Senate Democrats, with Democratic Party leadership, with the administration,” Praeli said.