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Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas), chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said the White House has been wrestling with the CHC over whether it has the legal authority to stop deportations of people affected by the DREAM Act for nearly two years. Already, Obama has asked immigration authorities to prioritize deportations of illegal immigrants who have committed other, more dangerous crimes. Still, potential DREAM Act beneficiaries continue to be deported.
Obama shouldn’t wait to act, Gonzalez said, if the administration determines it has the authority.
“The White House has to recognize that this Congress, in this election year, is basically frozen,” he said. “The executive order would be more like an emergency room physician who would simply deal with the most pressing issue right now knowing there will have to be follow-up later. ... He has nothing to lose, and the DREAM kids have everything to gain.”
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) reiterated his push for an order with an item on the Huffington Post last week following a New York Times editorial pushing the executive order. And almost 100 law professors signed a letter to the White House asserting that the president has the authority to issue the order.
Rubio told Roll Call that he’s not sure whether the executive order would help or hurt his efforts to line up Republican votes for the compromise legislation that he is drafting. But he said he would prefer the legislative route.
Democrats, however, have been largely skeptical that Rubio can deliver a product that will both be worthy of their support and get Republicans and Romney on board.
The drumbeat for an executive order will only grow louder as Obama faces a tough re-election fight — and one where he will need Hispanic voters to put him over the top.
The White House remained noncommital last week. “The President is deeply committed to doing all he can to improve people’s lives and ensuring that Congress fulfills its responsibilities to act on measures important to millions of Americans,” a senior administration official said.