Deportation relief for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. may not come before November’s midterm election.
President Obama made clear in June that, because Congress hadn’t moved forward on legislation, he’d take major action himself on immigration by the end of the summer:
If Congress will not do their job, at least we can do ours. I expect their recommendations before the end of summer and I intend to adopt those recommendations without further delay.
When Obama made his remarks on immigration reform in the Rose Garden in late June, he also provided more resources to secure the border—but many have been waiting patiently for some kind of deal that would allow undocumented immigrants some kind of administrative status change, even temporarily. The president’s comments claiming he’d take action on immigration by the end of the summer have also been backed by insiders and senior advisors. Some groups were already preparing undocumented immigrants for what Obama was expected to do in the next couple of weeks.
But now, it seems, he’s changed his mind. Obama told reporters on Thursday that his timeline on immigration action may change. According to the New York Times, Obama’s calculation has everything to do with key Senate races:
Under pressure from nervous Democratic Senate candidates in tight races, President Obama is rethinking the timing of his pledge to act on his own to reshape the nation’s immigration system by summer’s end, and could instead delay some or all of his most controversial proposals until after the midterm elections in November, according to people familiar with White House deliberations.
And, according to the Los Angeles Times, immigration enforcement could, in fact, increase before the election:
Under that plan, the president would first announce measures aimed at tightening enforcement of current law, then put off until the end of the year a decision on a more sweeping program that could temporarily shield millions of immigrants from deportation.
Obama’s administration has already deported more than two million people—more than have been deported under any other president.