President Obama is "playing it safe" on immigration reform by announcing that he will delay executive action until after the midterm elections in November, Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez said today on "This Week."
"It's clear that playing it safe is what is going on at the White House and among Democratic circles," Gutierrez, D-Ill., told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos. "Playing it safe means walking away from our values and our principles."
The White House announced Saturday that President Obama recently made the decision to postpone executive action on immigration until after the upcoming midterms.
The decision to put off executive action on immigration reform comes just days after President Obama promised to act "soon" on the issue. In a news conference Friday, the president said, "In the absence of Congressional action, I intend to take action to make sure we are putting more resources on the border, that we are upgrading how we process these cases, and that we find a way to encourage legal immigration, and give people some path so they can start paying taxes and pay a fine and learn English."
Gutierrez said waiting will hurt the Latino community that has historically supported the president and other Democrats.
"President Barack Obama in the last five years has deported more people than any other president in the history of the United States," Gutierrez said. "While we wait until November, because that's the president's decision, there's going to be another 60,000 people deported. So there is pain and suffering in the community and there's a lot of anguish and anger."
Critics say Obama's decision is a political one designed to help vulnerable Senate Democrats who are up for re-election in red states. Some analysts - including FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver - project that the GOP will likely take control of the Senate in November.
Gutierrez said that action on immigration reform shouldn't be based on party politics.
"Playing it safe might win an election. Sometimes you lose an election playing it safe also. But it's almost never leads to fairness, to justice, and to good public policy that you can be proud of," he said.
Republicans have also criticized President Obama for failing to act more quickly on the immigration issues facing the country. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the decision to hold off on immigration reform until after the midterms "smacks of raw politics," while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called it "Washington politics at its worst."
Gutierrez said that he's still hopeful for progress on immigration reform in the coming weeks.
"I've called the president, called the White House, I expect that we will be meeting this week so that we can continue," he said.
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