Immigration advocates are voicing their anger over the fact that under the Obama administration deportations have reached a record high — passing every record set by the much-maligned Bush administration.
In New York, advocates took to the streets Thursday to start a monthlong push for the New York Immigration Coalition’s (NYIC) “Stroke of a Pen” campaign. They are urging President Obama to stop the mass deportation of “hard-working immigrants and family members” by forgoing congressional approval and issuing an executive order.
“We know that President Obama has the power to change gears from the enforcement-only approach that has caused a deportation crisis in our nation,” said Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the NYIC. “We are looking to him to summon the moral and political courage, and wisdom, to do what is right, to stop pursuing these failed policies, and to live up to the promises he has repeatedly made to reform our immigration system.”
The NYIC and participating groups will be mobilizing people on the streets and online to send Obama letters and pens to pressure him into using his executive powers to stop “unjust” deportations.
Democratic Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez has voiced his support for the campaign, encouraging the president to ignore congressional gridlock and just sign an executive order.
“You, with the stroke of a pen can sign those executive orders and say, ‘While the congress won’t act, I, as president, will act,’” said Gutierrez in an online advertisement for the campaign.
Various immigration advocacy groups are involved in the effort, and will be going to the streets to seek out more support. (Is E-Verify bill in conflict with conservative ideals?)
“We believe that it is past time for the Obama administration to take action,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the MinKwon Center for Community Action, one of the groups participating in the effort. “We’ve gathered more than a thousand Pen Campaign signatures to show that our community wants to end these deportations – and instead find a way to relieve the suffering of hundreds of thousands of immigrant families.”
“We call on President Obama to stop the separation of families by ending unjust deportations with the stroke of a pen,” added Gonzalo Mercado, executive director of El Centro del Inmigrante.“Immigrant families across the country are living in a constant state of fear as more anti-immigrant legislation and enforcement-only practices are put into place despite the President’s promise to fix the broken immigration system”
Wednesday the president reaffirmed his support for comprehensive immigration reform and stressed the need to work the chinks out of the worker verification program E-Verify.
“I’ve said it before. I will say it again. I will say it next week. And I’ll say it six months from now,” the president said. “We’ve got to have a system that makes sure that we uphold our tradition as a nation of laws and that we also uphold our tradition as a nation of immigrants.”