Obama backing away from end-of-summer deadline to take action.
WASHINGTON – President Obama is considering a delay of his most controversial proposals to revamp immigration laws through executive action until after the midterm elections in November, mindful of the electoral peril for Democratic Senate candidates, according to allies of the administration who have knowledge of White House deliberations.
The president vowed in late June to act unilaterally, declaring a deep frustration with what he termed Republican obstruction in Congress. He pledged to act to reshape the immigration system soon after he received recommendations from senior advisers at the end of the summer. But now Obama and his aides appear to be backing away from a firm commitment to that timing. In remarks Thursday, Obama hinted at the possibility of a delay.
“Some of these things do affect timelines, and we’re just going to be working through as systematically as possible in order to get this done,” Obama said. “But have no doubt, in the absence of congressional action, I’m going to do what I can to make sure the system works better.”
His aides were sending similarly strong signals, but emphasized that no final decision had been made.
Democratic control of the Senate hinges on the outcomes of about a half-dozen close races in states where Obama is not popular, and strategists fear that an immigration announcement could complicate Democratic efforts to prevail in those states.
But for Obama, talk of a delay is politically explosive among Hispanics, who are one of his most loyal constituencies and twice helped him win the presidency. Long upset by Obama’s inability to successfully push comprehensive immigration overhaul in Congress, immigration rights advocates said Friday that a delay would be unconscionable.
“This is a moment of leadership for the administration, for the president,” said Lorella Praeli, the advocacy director for United We Dream, the largest network of young immigrants in the United States illegally. “Is he going to succumb to the threats from the Republican Party, or is he going to lead?”