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Activists regroup after Obama postpones immigration action



President Obama delays action on immigration reform until after the Congressional elections in November, breaking a promise to act by the end of the summer.
President Obama delays action on immigration reform until after the Congressional elections in November, breaking a promise to act by the end of the summer.
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

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Rumors that President Obama would delay executive action on immigration had circulated for days. But when he confirmed immigration activists' fears this weekend (see video below), the barbed reaction was instant. 

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles issued this statement:

This is a shameful moment in American history and a stark reminder that justice delayed is justice denied.

From the National Immigration Law Center:

The president’s decision to delay any action will only allow our dysfunctional immigration system to continue to devastate families, communities, and our economy.

"A lot of us are really angry at the president for lack of courage and lack of leadership and for putting politics over people," said Anthony Ng, an organizer with Asian Americans Advancing Justice. 

Activists had hoped the president would provide relief from deportation to many — if not all — of the estimated 11 million immigrants in the country illegally. But some Democrats pressured Obama to postpone action, as their party struggles to hold onto the Senate in the November Congressional elections. The president also said that an earlier surge in Central American children crossing the U.S. border had factored into his decision.

Groups that favor limiting immigration such as the Federation for American Immigration said the president's delay showed a recognition that the move wasn't going to be popular with some voters.

"We're obviously relieved he postponed (executive action)," said FAIR's spokesman Ira Mehlman. "In our view, he has no authority to act unilaterally without the approval of Congress on this and the same will be true after the election as before the election."

Ben Monterroso, the LA-based executive director of Mi Familia Vota, said the delay is a reminder that Latinos need to show politicians their votes count.  

"We have no other alternative but to continue making sure that our political voice is being," Monterroso said.

He said in the coming weeks Latino and Asian-American groups will be banding together on voter registration drives.

“We haven’t yet got to the full potential and that’s our job to do if we want to have not only immigration reform done but other issue of concern to our community as well," Monterroso said.

Monterroso said he was heartened that the president still planned to take executive action after the November elections. Both he and Ng said activists need to continue to pressure the president to take action that will benefit as many immigrants as possible.

"We're expecting a lot bigger of an announcement when it does come," Ng said.

Obama explains delay on executive action on Meet the Press: