News / USA

US Lawmakers, Religious Leaders Urge Obama to Act on Immigration

Demonstrators are lined up outside the White House in Washington, Aug. 28, 2014, as they are being arrested during a protest on immigration reform.
Demonstrators are lined up outside the White House in Washington, Aug. 28, 2014, as they are being arrested during a protest on immigration reform.
Cindy Saine

Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez and several U.S. religious leaders are calling on President Barack Obama to take executive actions soon to fix the U.S. immigration system, after Congress failed to pass comprehensive reform legislation. 

Other Democratic lawmakers in tough re-election races, however, have asked the president to delay any executive action on immigration until after the November midterm elections, frustrating immigrants' rights activists.  

Obama and some of his senior advisers are now said to be engaged in an internal debate about when to move on executive action on deportations and how to deal with the influx of children from Central America at the U.S. southern border.

The president had said in June that he would announce executive actions by the end of the summer, but now the White House says the decision could come later.  One of the leading advocates for immigrants' rights in Congress, Democratic Representative Luis Gutierrez, is calling on Obama to "stand up for what he believes in."

"Because it is better the president make the decision now, clearly before the American public, in a transparent manner, before the election," he said.

Gutierrez called on Democrats who are reportedly asking for a delay to not block action on the issue, saying Democrats cannot stand with immigrants only when it is politically expedient. 

Clarissa Martinez de Castro of the National Council of La Raza agrees.

"We are deeply disappointed to hear that some may be advocating for a delay in the president moving forward with his long-awaited announcement on executive action on immigration," she said.

The U.S. Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform legislation more than a year ago, but the House of Representatives failed to hold a vote on broad reforms.  In July, the House instead passed a bill that focused on boosting border security.  

A group of religious leaders has written the president to ask him to ensure that the rights of children are not lost in the broad political debate on immigration.  One of them, Sister Simone Campbell of the Catholic group Network, has been working to help unaccompanied children at the border. She said she is disappointed in the House vote.

"They took the approach of rolling back protections for those who are the most vulnerable.  That is not who we are as a nation," Campbell said.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Republican Buck McKeon said a 2008 law to protect children from human trafficking needs to be revised, because the measure is motivating Central American children to risk their lives to come to the United States.

"The problem is a refugee problem down at the border right now.  And the president, a couple of weeks ago told us that he would support changing that 2008 law, and now they are against it, so he changed his mind," he said.

Experts say it is unclear exactly what type of reforms the president may enact, ranging from increasing the number of green cards offered, which allow foreigners to live and work in the United States, to deferring deportations for undocumented immigrants. 

Any executive actions the president takes could be reversed by Congress. 

You May Like

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurdish Leader: Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid