House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called on President Obama to issue a “bold” executive order that would stop the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants, including farm workers, families of people allowed to remain in the country under the administration's “Dream Act” policy, and many others.
In an op-ed published by Univisión, Pelosi, along with Reps. Zoe Lofgren and Luis Gutiérrez, called on Obama to legalize immigrants who would have benefited from a comprehensive immigration reform bill the U.S. Senate passed in 2013.
The trio of lawmakers said the president should go even further by permitting close relatives of citizens and lawful permanent residents to gain entry into the United States, and blocking the deportation of relatives who are here illegally.
“Doing so would not permit family members to skip the line, but it would allow them to wait in line with their family until a visa number becomes available," the lawmakers wrote.
With less than a week to go before the pivotal midterm elections, Democrats are eager to bolster turnout among their base of Hispanic voters.
Party officials, however, fear that enthusiasm will be depressed among Hispanic voters because Obama has not yet taken promised executive action on deportations.
Obama recently announced he is postponing action until after the November election.
Democrats, meanwhile, are eager to implement provisions in the Senate-passed bill, despite GOP opposition.
The legislation included some Republican support in the Senate but was never considered in the GOP-led House. Many Republican lawmakers feared the bill would be too soft on border security, would raise unemployment and would stretch the limits of the nation’s social welfare system.
The measure would have increased visas for immigrant workers of all skill levels, created a guest worker program for immigrant farm hands and would have provided a pathway to citizenship for the millions of people now living in the United States illegally.
The president, the lawmakers wrote in the op-ed, could also order an end to deportations and easier re-entry into the United States, for families of young people granted legal status under Obama’s recent executive action known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which provides work permits, but not permanent legal status, for young people brought here illegally as children.
In the op-ed, Pelosi, Lofgren and Gutiérrez said that because the House refused to consider the legislation, Obama, “could use his authority to prevent family separation — this time of undocumented close family members of U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, or DACA beneficiaries.”
They added, “Similarly, he could recognize that it is 'essential for agriculture' that farmworkers who toil in our fields do so without fear.”
Immigration activists are also pressuring Obama this week to end deportations through executive action.
Members of “United We Dream” gathered in front of the gates of the White House on Thursday morning to demand Obama act on his executive action promise.
“Any executive action to provide deportation relief that the president announces after the elections must include as many people as possible,” Carlos Rojas, an illegal immigrant who is a member of the group, said in a statement.