WASHINGTON — With President Barack Obama expected to sign a much anticipated executive order on immigration in a few weeks, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., said Monday that a lot of organizing work needs to be done to help eligible illegal immigrants sign up for expected programs to let them stay in the U.S. legally.
“We want to get as many as we can out of the vicious cycle of deportation,” Gutierrez told Jose Diaz-Balart on his MSNBC show. “…We’re getting ready.”
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Groups within the pro-immigration community are pressuring the White House to include certain items in the executive order. The business community is looking for language to make it easier to recapture unused visas while the AFL-CIO is organizing a meeting on Tuesday here to make sure the order deals with what the labor organization said is “the tragic consequences for all workers of a broken immigration system that empowers abusive employers.”
Obama is considering an executive order because of the failure of the House Republican leadership to call any immigration measures after the Democratic-led Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill more than a year ago. Obama has been critizicized by Gutierrez and the immigration rights community for the number of deportations that have increased on his watch.
Gutierrez has been holding a series of meetings with community groups and clergy to have systems in place to sign people up once an order is issued and becomes effective. On the first day an Obama executive order dealing with “Dreamers” — young immigrants in the country illegally through no fault of their own — thousands showed up at Navy Pier on Aug. 15, 2012, to learn how they could take advantage of the program.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel — all with close ties to the Obama White House — are expected to be very supportive of whatever order Obama issues. The biggest controversy will come if Obama does not, as expected, issue an order.