Civil and Human Rights Coalition Responds to Announcement of Administrative Action on Immigration Reform

Media 07.1,14

WASHINGTON – Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s announcement that, after comprehensive immigration reform legislation has languished in the House of Representatives for  more than a year, the administration would take executive action to lighten the burden of our broken immigration system:

“More than a year ago, the United States Senate put partisan bickering aside to pass a sweeping overhaul of our nation’s immigration system. Since then, a nationwide movement of civil rights, human rights, and immigration advocates – of which The Leadership Conference has been a part – has done all it could do to urge the House of Representatives to take up the issue as well. We reached out to House leadership and campaigned in key congressional districts, and our members even fasted on the National Mall, risking their health to highlight the importance of the cause.

Yet in the past year, the House has done nothing to address immigration policy, one of the most important policy issues of our time. It blocked a vote on the bipartisan Senate bill, rebuffed any efforts at compromise, refused to come forward with its own alternative vision, and invented baseless excuses for its inaction. Simply put, the House of Representatives is as broken as our immigration system.

So we are not surprised that President Obama, who shares our frustration with Congress, announced that he would look into new administrative fixes. While the President has a constitutional duty to ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed,’ he also has the authority – within those laws – to make judgment calls about where resources will be allocated and which types of cases to prioritize. We urge him to use this authority to curtail, as much as existing laws permit, the senseless detentions and deportations of people who – while not having legal residency – have been peacefully contributing to their families, their communities, and our national economy.

If the House leadership honestly believes its own complaints about President Obama’s use of executive powers, then it should do its job and pass laws that state more precisely what he can and cannot do. There is too much at stake in immigration reform, for millions of families and for our economy as a whole, for the House leadership to sit on its hands while it protests from the sidelines.”

Wade Henderson is the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit