Activists in Tampa want Obama to act on immigration now

November 6, 2014


At his press conference on Wednesday, President Obama gave no quarter when it comes to his pledge to act on his own to reduce deportations, grant work permits and improve border security by the end of the year despite the thumping that Democrats took at the polls.

Republicans weren't pleased to hear that, to say the least. This morning on Fox & Friends, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said if the president is serious about immigration reform, he won't act on his own.

“We can’t have a circumstance in which we are going after a problem as meddlesome and potentially divisive as immigration by executive action only, this has to go through the people’s representatives. That’s our system, that’s the Congress."

The president is being squeezed on the other side by immigration advocates. A small group of them held a news conference in Ybor City on Thursday, demanding that he act now.

"Elections are over, life goes on, but not for our immigrant families," said Lydia Medrano with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). "Deportations are not the solution to our immigration problem. We are calling upon President Obama to fulfill his promise to relieve the families of the undocumented."

Yesterday the Reverend John L. McCullough, the president and CEO of Church World Service, wrote a letter to Obama (and posted on The Hill's website), calling on him to act now and not wait until December to take an executive action on behalf of the 5.5 million children he says have at least one undocumented parent.

"Across the breadth of the religious community, particularly the Christian community, we have spoken with one voice on immigration reform in a way that Christians have seldom come together on any social issue," said the Rev. Dr. Russel L. Meyer, executive director of the Florida Council of Churches. "What we have right now is a feeding system for private prisons, it's simply immoral and wrong to continue to deport and to detain people so that corporations can earn profits. That's wrong. We need relief for 5.5 million immigrants in our country right now."

While some activists and the president have said they hope the House of Representatives would vote on the comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the Senate last year during an upcoming "lame duck" session of Congress, advocates at today's event said they had no faith that the Republicans were interested in doing that, and thus are calling on Obama to act now.

Ted Cruz and other GOP Senators wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid yesterday, calling on him to pass legislation that would block Obama from from taking executive action. Otherwise, they warned that  they'll use "all procedural means necessary" to resolve what they called a constitutional crisis of Obama's making.

"We're going to keep talking to voters. We're going to keep holding demonstrations to get Latinos and other immigrants against the injustices that are separating our families," added Isabel Sousa Rodriguez  from the Florida Immigrant Coalition. 

"He needs to act boldly, and benefit as many people as he can because they waited long enough and they've earned the right to be here," said Nanci Palacios with Faith in Florida. 

The AP reports that among the ideas the White House may be debating is whether or not to require a certain term of residency in the U.S., and whether eligibility criteria would include the parents of immigrants who received deportation deferrals under Obama, or only people who have children who are U.S. citizens because they were born here.