Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 28th 2013 Contents A47
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demanding that President Barack
Obama use his powers as chief
executive to stop deportations or
provide some relief to many of the
11 million immigrants living in the
Pro-immigrant groups are frus-
trated with the failure of House
Republicans to tackle immigration.
But Obama insists that the nation s
laws limit his ability to act unilat-
erally, even though his administra-
tion acted on its own last year to
suspend deportations of some
immigrants brought illegally into
the country as children and more
recently decided some relatives of
US service members living here ille-
gally could remain.
The US administration has also
quietly changed the rules for immi-
grants from "Visa Waiver Program"
countries, people who arrived in the
US legally but stayed longer than
the 90 days the programme allows.
Now people from the 37, mostly
European, countries in the pro-
gramme who are immediate relatives
of US citizens can apply to stay in
the United States legally.
The moves stand in sharp contrast
to the actions of Obama s Homeland
Security Department, which has
deported a record 1.47 million people
during the president s nearly five
years in office, according to internal
Immigration and Customs Enforce-
ment data. Heckling of the president
during California appearances Mon-
day underscored the dissatisfaction
with the Democratic president, not
only over the stalled immigration
overhaul but also the administra-
tion s policies.
"Stop deportations! Stop depor-
tations!" audience members yelled
at Obama during a speech in San
Francisco that was interrupted by a
young man who said his family has
been separated for 19 months.
"Executive order" was the rallying
cry at a separate Democratic
fundraiser Monday. Obama, the for-
mer instructor in constitutional law,
responded to the criticism with a
brief lesson in the nation s rules.
"If, in fact, I could solve all these
problems without passing laws in
Congress, then I would do so,"
Obama told the first group. "But
we re also a nation of laws. That s
part of our tradition. And so the
easy way out is to try to yell and
pretend like I can do something by
violating our laws."
House Republican leaders have
rejected the Democratic-controlled
Senate s comprehensive immigration
bill, which passed on a bipartisan
vote in June. The far-reaching meas-
ure would provide new visa and
workplace enforcement programmes
and billions of dollars for border
security, along with a path to cit-
izenship for millions.
Small, stand-alone bills from the
House Judiciary Committee have
languished for months, and leaders
signaled that votes are unlikely in
this year s remaining legislative days
even though Obama recently
embraced the piecemeal approach.
Prospects for immigration legislation
in 2014, with congressional elections
looming, are slim despite the issue s
political drag on the Republicans.
In the 2012 election, Hispanic and
Asian Americans went overwhelm-
ingly for Obama, and Republican
strategists know they need to make
some inroads with these groups if
they want to take the White House
Advocacy groups have been as
loud as the California protesters in
calling for Obama to act while they
maintain pressure on House Repub-
licans with protests and acts of civil
"House Republicans are infuri-
ating, and legislation is the perma-
nent solution, and we re going to
keep fighting for legislation. But
that doesn t let Obama off the hook,"
Frank Sharry, executive director of
America s Voice, a pro-immigrant
group, said Tuesday. "He continues
to be the president who presides
over record deportation."
What angers the advocacy groups
is that many of those deported are
immigrants who would qualify for
legal status or citizenship under the
Senate-passed legislation, which
Travelling with Obama in Cali-
fornia, a White House spokesman,
Josh Earnest, did not rule out some
sort of executive action. That pos-
sibility unnerves Republicans who
point to Obama s unilateral changes
to the health care law, such as delay-
ing some requirements and enrol-
ment deadlines. AP
Advocates press Obama
to act on immigration
President Barack Obama turns around to respond to hecklers interrupting his speech about immigration reform, on Monday at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco.
Obama's speech was dramatically interrupted by hecklers, located directly behind him, who urged him to halt deportations, of which his administration has conducted a record number. One young
man shouted about his family being separated for Thanksgiving, and said Obama should use his executive power to stop this. "Stop deportations, yes we can," the man and other people chanted.
The president stopped Secret Service agents who tried to remove the protesters. AP PHOTO
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