A coalition of 30 immigrant rights organizations warned Senate Democratic leaders Friday not to back away from demands that President Barack Obama act on immigration before the midterm elections.
The letter is a response to growing concern among the groups that the Senate leadership will pressure the administration to hold off on taking some of the boldest action until after November. That includes temporarily halting the deportation of potentially millions of undocumented immigrants.
Such a move could complicate the reelection bids of Democrats in red states like Arkansas, North Carolina, Louisiana and Alaska — races that could determine whether the party will maintain its grip on the Senate.
“To be clear, any attempts by our ‘allies’ in Congress to delay or dilute administrative reforms will be viewed as a betrayal of Latino and immigrant communities with serious and lasting consequences,” the Fair Immigration Reform Coalition wrote in the letter provided to POLITICO.
“These crucial next few weeks will define both the Democratic and Republican parties for the fastest growing electorate in the U.S. for decades to come,” the letter adds. “Inaction and delay in the name of perceived political expediency would be both morally outrageous and politically disastrous. We will not forgive and we will not forget those who stand in the way of the relief our families so desperately need. The President must keep his promise and do his job and our allies in Congress must stand firmly with us.”
The timing of the president’s announcement has become the focus of growing worry in Democratic circles.
The dynamic is leaving the Senate’s most powerful Democrats in a jam. Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington all called for executive action to halt deportations. In March, Schumer even said the White House should move on the matter “in October.”
But now the leaders are playing coy. Representatives for each of the senators refused to say this week whether their bosses want the president to move before November or wait until after the elections.
“To those who have suggested that immigrant families should wait for administrative relief until after the midterm elections, we remind you that with every passing day our communities continue to suffer under a broken and dysfunctional immigration system,” the FIRM letter states. “Every day that passes without administrative relief, thousands of families are separated by an enforcement machine that continues to terrorize our communities. Latino and immigrant communities have been tirelessly advocating for change, and we have waited long enough.”
The coalition said it would use the August recess to mobilize its supporters across the country.
Manu Raju and Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.”