The Slatest

Obama Angers Immigration Reform Advocates by Delaying Action Until After Election

President Barack Obama listens to a translation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan remarks at a bilateral meeting in Newport, South Wales, on September 5.

Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

It’s official: President Obama is putting politics first. As officials started hinting last week, Obama has decided to delay taking his promised executive action on immigration reform until after the November elections. In June he had bitterly criticized Republicans and vowed to use his executive authority on the issue before the end of the summer. The White House started telling lawmakers and advocacy groups of the president’s reversal late Friday and Saturday morning, reports the Washington Post. The decision hardly comes as a surprise considering Senate Democrats had warned the president that if he fulfilled his June promise it could hurt the party’s chances of holding on to the Senate.

Even though the move immediately angered immigration advocates, White House officials say that taking action before the elections could end up hurting broader reform efforts. “Because of the Republicans’ extreme politicization of this issue, the president believes it would be harmful to the policy itself and to the long-term prospects for comprehensive immigration reform to announce administrative action before the elections,” a White House official said, according to the New York Times. “Because he wants to do this in a way that’s sustainable, the president will take action on immigration before the end of the year.” President Obama is likely to talk about this issue during his appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.

Immigration advocates weren’t buying it though, quickly saying Saturday that they felt abandoned by the president. “We are bitterly disappointed in the president and we are bitterly disappointed in the Senate Democrats,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, according to the Associated Press. “We advocates didn’t make the reform promise; we just made the mistake of believing it. The president and Senate Democrats have chosen politics over people, the status quo over solving real problems.” Cristina Jimenez, the managing director of United We Dream, called the move “another slap to the face of the Latino and immigrant community.”