President Obama tried to turn around accusations from amnesty advocates who called him the "deporter-in-chief" by claiming he is the "champion-in-chief" for a comprehensive amnesty. However, his remarks did not dissuade more pro-amnesty politicians from joining the chorus calling for an end to deportations.
At a meeting today, opponents of Obama’s deportation policies asked him a series of difficult questions. In response, he said, "Since I ran for president, I've pushed for comprehensive immigration reform, and I will continue to push. I am the champion-in-chief of comprehensive immigration reform. But until Congress passes new laws, I am constrained in what I am able to do."
When a participant suggested that his reputation has been "tarnished" by the deportations, Obama said, "I would challenge the premise. I think the community understands that I've got their back and I'm fighting for them. Does that mean there will not be some frustrations? Of course not. But that's true of everybody in the population. If something goes wrong, they say, 'Why hasn't Obama done something on that?...The reason you have deportations taking place is that Congress says you have to enforce these laws. I cannot ignore those laws any more than I can ignore any other laws on the books."
Obama’s remarks were not welcome news for Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who today issued a statement to the Capitol Hill newspaper Politico saying, “We remain focused on passing a balanced immigration bill that secures our borders and fixes a broken system. But if the House recesses in September without passing immigration reform, in October the administration should stop deporting hard-working and law-abiding people who would be covered by the Senate bill.”
Yesterday Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told reporters that he has been urging Homeland Security officials to reduce the number of deportations. Like Schumer, Durbin suggested using as criteria the eligibility requirements under the Senate-passed comprehensive amnesty. “If we’re dealing with strictly technical violations of immigration law, I don’t believe they should be deported,” Durbin said. “If there’s a criminal record, it’s totally different.”
Also Wednesday, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., told the Administration to suspend “needless” deportations. “While we continue waiting for the House of Representatives to wake up and move on immigration reform legislation, I urge the president to take action today and halt needless deportations that are splitting apart our families and communities,” Menendez said. “The current deportation apparatus is an outrage, and it’s a tragedy.”
Pro-amnesty groups are gearing up for a series of events in the coming weeks culminating in a national “day of action” on April 5th. The goal is to bring attention to the number of deportations and demand relief from Obama. They claim Obama will have deported his 2-millionth illegal alien by that point so the event themed "two million too many."