As recently reported by The Washington Post, President Obama is preparing for a tough political and legal battle against the Republications brought on by the executive actions he is taking on immigration. However, it could be a bad time for the president to seek support due to lingering bad feelings and frustration from Latinos, leading to yet more pressure to protect illegal immigrants.
Having taken a tight stance on deportations for six years, Obama made the decision to shield as many as four million undocumented immigrants from deportation, mainly as a way to repair some of the damage already done to his relationship with a key constituency. During those six years, Latinos have become disillusioned with the President, and support has been gradually plummeting.
In fact, getting the Latinos back on his side will be crucial for Obama in the coming months, as GOP efforts to block his deferred-action program could mean a lack of federal funding for his executive action, or for it to be overturned via legislation. Looking beyond the immigration issue, the president will also be looking towards Latinos to help support Obamacare.
The administration’s strategy is to enroll as many supporters as humanly possible, making it extremely difficult for the Republicans to get their way – politically speaking. For the immigration issue in particular, rallying support will help to put more pressure on Congress in order to find a more long-term legislative solution during the final two years of Obama’s administration.
As Obama tries to shift more of the strain back on the GOP, he is finding there are still plenty of tough questions to answer – particularly from Hispanic activists – to do with why he had not taken action before now. Why has he not done more to protect immigrants, and why is the protection only coming now? Many advocates are also concerned about those who remained unprotected under the latest presidential executive action.
Many are looking to Obama for an explanation, and his response could be crucial to his track record as president – something Obama had hoped would be more of a legacy issue. This was highlighted in Nashville recently, when the president happened to be talking to local communities about the many benefits of immigration, and found himself confronted by Jorge Ramos, an influential Spanish-language TV host.
Ramos accused Obama of destr oying many families, and claimed he could have stopped the deportations sooner if he had really wanted to. He also brought up a supposed nickname for Obama, “deporter-in-chief“.
Obama replied: “No, no, no. That is not true,” before going on to criticize Ramos for demanding quick, simple answers to very complicated and deep-rooted issues to do with the very real problem of illegal immigration.
The president continued: “It does a disservice because it makes the assumption that the political process is one that can easily be moved around, depending on the will of one person, and that’s not how things work.”
It is impossible to deny the amount of enthusiasm and support for Obama’s recent executive actions among many immigrant communities, and the president has had a good amount of praise thrown his way for going it on his own in terms of limiting deportations. Looking at it alongside the similar program for younger immigrants Obama introduced back in 2012, almost half of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States could benefit from deportation relief – and even gain the right to legally work there.
Obama’s actions have also had plenty of interest, with thousands recently lining up in LA last weekend to learn whether or not they qualified, as part of a free information session.
However, there is still pressure on the president from various advocacy groups, including the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, to protect more undocumented immigrants from deportation.
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