President Obama has professed his support for progressive immigration policy throughout both of his campaigns, and activists are currently applying maximum pressure in hopes that he'll make good on those promises. As the comprehensive immigration reform bill languishes in the House, activists are calling on Obama to turn to direct Presidential action.
Specifically, the Washington Post reported that activists are pleading with Obama to halt record deportations, which average about 1,000 per day. The powerful response from advocate groups was prompted when Obama stated that he was powerless to halt deportations, or expand his deferred action policy for young people to all immigrants.
Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, stated that Obama has an "obligation to lead the national debate through bold action." The organization sponsored a political protest action last week in which seven undocumented workers chained themselves to the gates of the White House, chanting, "Mr. President, Stop Deportations."
Administration officials have tried to highlight the positive steps Obama has taken, including promoting a policy of "prosecutorial discretion," in which ICE officials have been directed to prioritize deporting only those undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of dangerous crimes.
But numbers don't lie, and the 1,000 deportations a day are unprecedented. Frank Sharry, the executive director of immigration reform group America's Voice, stated "Does he really want to go down as the President who didn't pass immigration reform and deported more people than any other President?"
Of course, Obama can't pass immigration reform alone. The Republican majority in the House has thus far successfully resisted passing the bill, despite public pressure. White House press secretary Jay Carney stated, "The House ought to [pass the bill] right away and address some of the political challenges they've been facing."
Whatever happens in the Hill, it's clear that activists aren't backing down on their demands. Here in Arizona, activists from The Puente Movement are organizing a campaign called "Not One More" to protest ICE in Phoenix on October 12-14.