Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said Friday he has no doubt that President Barack Obama will deliver on his promise to take executive action on immigration despite the current attention on the unaccompanied minors crisis.
The scope of it may be the only question, but I have no doubt that at some point he will respond with executive action, Menendez said on a conference call with reporter.
Last month, Obama said he was tired of waiting for House Republicans to act on immigration reform and was ready to take executive action to fix as much of the nations broken immigration system as he could on his own. He directed Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and the Attorney General Eric Holder to identify actions his administration can take within existing legal authorities.
The president gave them until the end of the summer to come up with a list of recommendations.
But with the immigration debate shifting toward the unprecedented number of unaccompanied minors coming to the United States mostly from Central America, some advocates are worried that Obama wont be as bold on his immigration executive actions.
Menendez acknowledged that it will be more politically difficult for Obama to act boldly, saying that immigration opponents will use the refugee crisis and try to blur the lines and create an image in which they will try to make it harder for the president to act.
However, the New Jersey senator said he doesnt think Obama will give in to the pressure and will instead provide executive relief from deportation for immigrants whove already been living in the U.S. for many years.
One executive action that Menendez and other Democrats are pushing for is the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides deportation reprieve and work permits to undocumented youth.
In attempt to prevent that from happening, Sen. Ted Cruz introduced legislation on Thursday that would prevent the Obama administration from expanding the DACA program and preventing more undocumented immigrants from being approved for it a measure that is unlikely to pass in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Like Menendez, Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.), who was also on the call, said he also feels confident that Obama will deliver on his promise to issue immigration executive actions this year. Garcia noted that in a meeting with Congressional Hispanic Caucus members earlier this week, Obama said he would do everything that he has the power to do to try to fix the nations broken immigration system.
Garcia also expressed frustration with House Republicans for their inability to pass any immigration reform bill ever since the Senate approved their immigration reform bill last year.
We gave it our best and they simply said no, he said, referring to House Republicans. We stand ready to go back and fix this if they want to, but theyve left nothing else for [Obama] to do.