Lawmakers urge Obama to work with Congress on immigration
(CNN) — One day after President Barack Obama announced that he is delaying executive action on immigration, top lawmakers urged the President to ditch his plans for an executive action altogether and work with Congress.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein indicated she’d prefer the President not act unilaterally at all.
“The way this should be done is legislatively,” the California Democrat said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” She said anything done through presidential action would be challenged in the courts.
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, agreed, adding the President is being “prudent” by not acting.
“I think that was wise. He needs to work with Congress on this,” he said, also on “State of the Union.”
On Saturday, the President announced he is delaying any action on immigration that could have protected many undocumented immigrant workers and families from deportation until after the midterm elections in November. His move prompted critics and analysts to determine his decision was political as Democrats are struggling to maintain control of the Senate.
Even Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, who is a strong proponent of immigration reform, said “it’s clear that playing it safe is what is going on at the White House and among Democratic circles.”
He said Democrats have looked at polling in red, Southern states with small Latino populations, including Georgia, North Carolina, Arkansas and Louisiana, where Democratic Senate candidates are at risk of losing in November.
“Playing it safe means walking away from our values and our principles,” he added on ABC’s “This Week.”
Obama said that he decided to postpone taking action because “the politics did shift midsummer” because of the record number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border.
The President also said that he needs to spend time explaining to the American public his reasons for acting on immigration.
“I want to spend some time, even as we’re getting all our ducks in a row for the executive action, I also want to make sure that the public understands why we’re doing this, why it’s the right thing for the American people, why it’s the right thing for the American economy,” he said in an interview aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
But the President has also received criticism for his delay. Immigration reform advocates have said they are “bitterly disappointed.”
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, expressed a similar sentiment, saying on “Fox News Sunday” that he’s “deeply disappointed” that the President hasn’t yet acted.
While Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-California said Latinos and immigrant communities are “frustrated” with the President for taking so long to act, he said the majority of frustration is placed at the feet of Congress.
“The first blame is with Congress not doing its job, and now the President is forced to have to take a measure like executive actions,” he said on CNN.
The Senate passed a comprehensive piece of immigration legislation in 2013 but it has been stalled in the House. That inaction led the President to announce at the beginning of the summer that he would act in spite of congressional inaction.
Rogers said he hopes the President never moves forward on such an executive action, calling it “risky” for his relationship with Republicans.
“I think it’s very risky for the President. He already has a credibility crisis. If he takes this step, it would make for a very long two years,” Rogers said.
CNN’s Kevin Bohn contributed to this report
By Leigh Ann Caldwell