June 12, 2013— -- Not one more deportation.
That's what immigrant rights groups want President Obama to do until Congress is able to pass an immigration reform bill that provides legal status for undocumented immigrants.
"It seems to me that it's not in the best interests of the country to deport a mother or a father when they have citizen children in the United States," Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said in Spanish at a press conference on Wednesday.
Gutierrez joined together with immigrant rights groups like the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and Casa de Maryland to send the message that immigrant families continue to be torn apart by deportation.
"This Sunday, I know I will be celebrating with my family on Father's Day, but I will be thinking of the husbands that are being lost and that will not be celebrating with their children," he said.
The call for the president to stop deportations may seem like an executive overreach to an outsider. But as an immigration reform bill advances in the Senate, there's an ethical, if not political, question about whether you should deport people who may soon be on a track to legal status in the U.S. And from a practical standpoint, it's a waste of resources.
According to data obtained by the news website Colorlines, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security deported nearly 205,000 parents of U.S. citizen children from July 1, 2010, to Sept. 31, 2012.
But the president has said repeatedly he won't slow down the pace of deportations as the legislative process moves forward.
"I think it is important to remind everybody that, as I said I think previously, and I'm not a king," Obama told Univision's Maria Elena Salinas in January. "I am the head of the executive branch of government. I'm required to follow the law."
This wouldn't be the first time Obama has made a move like this, however.
Nearly a year ago, President Obama announced that his administration would halt deportations of DREAMers, undocumented young people.
Since then, more than 291,000 people have been approved for a program that lets those young people live and work in the U.S.
He could expand that program to include certain people who would gain legal status under the Senate immigration bill that he supports, according to advocates.
"It's the same authority that he has," Rep. Gutierrez told reporters in Spanish. "It's not a law, this is the authority that the President of the United States has."
But the topic of deportations is a delicate one as Obama and Democrats are currently trying to court Republicans to help pass some sort of immigration reform legislation this year.
Many GOP lawmakers argue that Obama never had the authority to grant young people a deportation reprieve in the first place. And the program, call Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), is currently the subject of a lawsuit in a federal district court in Texas.
An order issued by the court in April gave the impression that the case against the program might have some validity, but the judge still hasn't issued a ruling.
That lawsuit aside, the president certainly believes his move has legal standing, or else, presumably, he wouldn't have done it. And if DACA is a lawful use of administrative power, then there's no reason to think an extension would be any different.
But obviously there's the political calculus involved here.
Republicans in the House are so frustrated with the Obama administration's use of power that they passed a symbolic bill last week that would have called for defunding the DACA program.
There's almost no chance the bill will ever become law, but it's a message that Republicans don't want to see the president use his authority to halt deportations. And as long as a viable immigration bill is on the table, Obama is unlikely to do something that would provoke Republicans such as further halting deportations.