DENVER (CBS4) – A man held up in a church in Denver, on the verge of getting deported, finds new hope in President Obama’s pledge for immigration reform by the end of the year.
The president’s remarks have gotten some strong reaction on both sides. Conservatives on Capitol Hill have blocked action on immigration and believe the president will get burned if he acts without congressional approval.
Activists rallied outside the First Unitarian Church on Thursday and believe the waiting should be over. They believe it’s time Mr. Obama honored his promise of immigration reform.
“We need to deliver a clear message to President Obama that the time for action is now,” said one activist.
If the president hoped to avoid backlash in the midterm by delaying action it seems to have backfired.
“Some of us believe delaying the announcement of relief for hundreds of thousands of families, relief that has overwhelming popular support and is in line with our values as Americans, may very well have had the opposite effect by dampening voter enthusiasm across the country,” said Rep. Jared Polis, a democrat representing Boulder.
Polis joined Thursday’s rally at the church, one of six providing sanctuary to immigrants like Arturo Hernandez, who faces deportation.
Immigration authorities won’t enter churches unless a person is a threat.
“I want immigration to do something for my family and my children and I want President Obama to do something for all families in my exact same situation,” said a woman speaking for Hernandez.
Hernandez has applied for citizenship but there is a 15-year backlog. He’s hoping for a stay of deportation that buys him time until the president or congress takes action. Activists warn if there isn’t action soon, there will be consequences in 2016.
“We expect people elected to office to honor their commitments and when they do not we will hold them accountable,” said one activist.
A record number of deportations have occurred under the Obama administration.
The president is expected to take action to defer deportations and grant work permits to those who meet certain residency requirements including the parents of children who received deferrals. He’s also expected to make more business visas available.
Only Congress can take action on a path to citizenship.