Saturday, November 15, 2014


WASHINGTON – Today at a press conference led by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (IL-04), Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) joined many House Democratic Colleagues in urging President Obama to use his broad legal authority to implement administrative reforms to improve key aspects of America’s broken immigration system.

“Republicans have refused every effort in Congress to fix our broken immigration system despite countless opportunities.  In the face of Congressional inaction, like those before him, the President must act,” said Rep. John Conyers. 

Spearheaded by Rep. Gutierrez and House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Rep. Conyers and over 115 House Democrats issued a letter to President Obama urging him to exercise his power under existing law to prevent the separation of undocumented family members of U.S. citizens, lawful permeant residents, and deferred action beneficiaries.  The letter also encourages the President to recognize undocumented farmworkers that face exploitation and abuse.   

Last year, after substantial negotiations between a bipartisan group of 4 Democratic and 4 Republican Senators, the Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation that would have overhauled U.S. immigration law.  If enacted, the bill would establish a fair pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants after undergoing several security measures before obtaining a green card, further secure our borders, and ensure that our nation’s economic needs could be met through improved visa programs.  House Republicans have repeatedly blocked progress of this critical legislation by refusing to allow a vote on the bipartisan immigration reform bill.

“At this time, it is clear to me that the only path forward on immigration policy is through Executive action.  I encourage the Obama Administration to move forward with bold, Executive action because it’s the right thing to do for the country,” added Rep. Conyers.

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Text of the letter to President Obama urging him to take “bold and meaningful” executive action is below:

November 13, 2014

Dear Mr. President:

It is most unfortunate that Republican leaders in the House refused to allow a vote on the bipartisan immigration reform bill the Senate passed last year.  Even today, if Republican leaders allowed a vote, the bill would pass.  But they won’t.

When Republicans blocked legislation, your pledge to use Presidential power under existing law to improve our immigration system gave us hope. Without such changes, our economy will continue to suffer and families in our communities will continue to be torn apart.

Although we were very disappointed when you postponed action until after the November election, we were encouraged last week when you reaffirmed your promise to act before the end of the year.

We hope that your actions will prevent the separation of undocumented family members of U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and DACA beneficiaries and offer protection to others who have long worked in the United States and have established strong ties with our communities.  We similarly hope that you will recognize that undocumented farmworkers are “essential for agriculture” and that our country would benefit greatly if they were permitted to work in our fields without fear.  We further hope that you will reform our immigration enforcement efforts to make them more sensible and humane.

Bold and meaningful executive action will provide a boost to our national and local economies.  It will strengthen communities and promote family unity.  It will help the government focus limited enforcement resources on those who pose a true danger to the public.  And by providing an opportunity for millions of undocumented immigrants to register with the government—provide detailed biographic information, undergo criminal background checks, demonstrate continuing compliance with tax laws—it will protect American and immigrant workers alike by reducing the threat of exploitation and abuse.

The legal authority for taking executive action is clear and substantial.  Just two years ago, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts reaffirmed that the administration retains “broad discretion” to decide “whether it makes sense to pursue removal at all.”  Arizona v. United States, 132 S.Ct. 2492, 2499 (2012).  And executive action in this area is anything but unprecedented.  In fact, every past President starting from President Dwight D. Eisenhower more than half a century ago has used such authority when dealing with similar issues regarding the national interest.

Like us, you have heard Republicans warn that any actions you take will “poison the well” and prevent them from using their upcoming majority in the Senate to address our broken immigration system. However, for the past two years it was not Senate Democrats that blocked much-needed legislation, it was House Republicans. That obstacle to sensible immigration reform still remains. Let us also not forget that congressional Republicans previously blocked reform in 2006 and 2007.

As you said last week, “What we can’t do is just keep on waiting. There’s a cost for waiting.” That cost is measured in the tens of thousands of parents of U.S. citizen children who are deported each year. It is measured in the emotional price children and DACA recipients pay worrying about whether their parents will come home at the end of the day. Our national security suffers whenever we spend precious enforcement resources on hardworking immigrant families, rather than on criminals and those who mean our communities harm.  And American workers’ wages and working conditions are consistently undermined as long as millions of immigrant workers are working in the shadows and off the books. We agree with you, Mr. President. We can no longer afford to wait.

As you have said, it is ultimately the job of Congress to reform our broken immigration system by enacting legislation. But by failing to do their job—and repeatedly interfering with your efforts to do your job—congressional Republicans threaten to take our immigration system hostage and preserve a status quo that everyone agrees is unacceptable. Their failure to act must not inhibit your commitment to governing.

We will stand with you as you take bold and meaningful action, consistent with existing law and historical precedent, to protect American families, strengthen local communities and grow the economy.


1.         Karen Bass
2.         Earl Blumenauer
3.         Suzanne Bonamici
4.         Tony Cárdenas
5.         Joaquin Castro
6.         Judy Chu
7.         David Cicilline
8.         Katherine Clark
9.         Yvette Clarke
10.       Wm. Lacy Clay
11.       Emanuel Cleaver
12.       James Clyburn
13.       Steve Cohen   
14.       John Conyers, Jr.
15.       Jim Costa
16.       Joseph Crowley
17.       Elijah Cummings
18.       Danny Davis
19.       Susan Davis
20.       Diana DeGette
21.       Rosa DeLauro
22.       Suzan DelBene
23.       Theodore Deutch
24.       Lloyd Doggett
25.       Tammy Duckworth
26.       Donna Edwards
27.       Keith Ellison
28.       Eliot Engel
29.       Anna C. Eshoo
30.       Sam Farr
31.       Chaka Fattah
32.       Bill Foster
33.       Marcia Fudge
34.       Joe Garcia
35.       Alan Grayson
36.       Al Green
37.       Gene Green
38.       Raul Grijalva
39.       Luis Gutierrez
40.       Janice Hahn
41.       Alcee Hastings
42.       Ruben Hinojosa
43.       Rush Holt
44.       Michael Honda
45.       Steny Hoyer
46.       Jared Huffman
47.       Sheila Jackson Lee
48.       Hakeem Jeffries
49.       Hank Johnson
50.       Marcy Kaptur
51.       Robin Kelly
52.       Joseph P. Kennedy, III
53.       John B. Larson
54.       Barbara Lee
55.       Sander Levin
56.       John Lewis
57.       Zoe Lofgren
58.       Alan Lowenthal
59.       Ben Ray Luján
60.       Carolyn Maloney
61.       Doris O. Matsui
62.       Betty McCollum
63.       Jim McDermott
64.       James P. McGovern
65.       Jerry McNerney
66.       Gregory Meeks
67.       Grace Meng
68.       George Miller
69.       Gwen Moore
70.       James P. Moran
71.       Jerrold Nadler
72.       Grace Napolitano
73.       Gloria Negrete McLeod
74.       Eleanor Holmes Norton
75.       Beto O’Rourke
76.       Frank Pallone
77.       Bill Pascrell
78.       Donald Payne, Jr.
79.       Ed Perlmutter
80.       Scott Peters
81.       Pedro Pierluisi
82.       Chellie Pingree
83.       Mark Pocan
84.       Jared Polis
85.       Mike Quigley
86.       Charles Rangel
87.       Lucille Roybal-Allard
88.       Bobby Rush
89.       Linda Sanchez
90.       Loretta Sanchez
91.       Janice Schakowsky
92.       Adam Schiff
93.       Bradley S. Schneider
94.       Kurt Schrader
95.       Allyson Y. Schwartz
96.       Robert C. “Bobby” Scott
97.       Jose Serrano
98.       Terri A. Sewell
99.       Albio Sires
100.     Adam Smith
101.     Jackie Speier
102.     Eric Swalwell
103.     Mark Takano
104.     Mike Thompson
105.     Dina Titus
106.     Paul Tonko
107.     Chris Van Hollen
108.     Juan Vargas
109.     Nydia Velazquez
110.     Marc A. Veasey
111.     Filemon Vela
112.     Maxine Waters
113.     Henry Waxman
114.     Peter Welch
115.     Frederica Wilson
116.     John Yarmuth

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