Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said President Barack Obama should use his executive power to grant work permits to millions of immigrants in the U.S. illegally.
“The irresponsible thing to do is to do nothing,” the Florida congresswoman said today at a Bloomberg Government breakfast in Washington. “The president should do within the boundaries of his executive authority what he can do if Congress refuses to act.”
With Congress stalled over immigration legislation, Obama is considering executive action to let millions of undocumented immigrants stay in the U.S. legally. White House officials have told allies in Congress to expect an announcement in September, before the midterm congressional elections.
A surge in turnout by Hispanics, who typically vote in low numbers in midterm elections, could be decisive for Democrats in a competitive U.S. Senate race in Colorado, and possibly in Georgia and North Carolina.
Hispanics account for 15 percent of eligible voters in Colorado and 5 percent in Georgia and North Carolina, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data by the Center for American Progress, a group aligned with Democrats.
“As a clear result of the actions of Republicans, they will continue to get a very small percentage of the Hispanic vote and the vote that comes from people who care about immigration reform,” Wasserman Schultz said.
Administration action staving off deportations for millions already in the country comes amid a surge of tens of thousands of minors from Central America who arrived unaccompanied at the U.S. southern border this year.
Wasserman Schultz described the situation as “an emergency,” saying Congress should act immediately on a spending bill to help deal with the crisis. Obama has requested $3.7 billion and the Senate is advancing a $2.7 billion plan. House Republicans have countered with a $659 million proposal.
“We eventually are going to run out of money,” she said. “Republicans have a track record of consistently refusing to support supplementals when there’s an emergency.”