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Democrats criticize Obama on immigration-order delay

Democrats criticize Obama on immigration-order delay
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, (D-Ill.) speaks about immigration during a news conference on Capitol Hill in July. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

With President Obama deciding not to take executive action on immigration until after the November election, some Democrats took to the Sunday talk shows to voice their frustration with him and with Congress' continued inaction. 

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.)  accused Obama of "playing it safe" and targeted fellow Democrats for, he said, turning their backs on the party's "values and principles." 

The White House has "looked at polling in four or five states where there aren't large Latino constituencies and said that's the way forward, without thinking of the impact that policy might have in Illinois, in California, in Colorado," Gutierrez said on ABC's "This Week." "Playing it safe might win an election ... but it never leads to fairness, to justice and to good public policy you can be proud of."

Democratic Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina -- who are each locked in competitive midterm contests in Republican-leaning states -- have urged Obama not to take executive action. Instead, they say, Congress must act.

A comprehensive bipartisan immigration bill passed the Democrat-controlled Senate more than a year ago but stalled in the GOP-controlled House. Republicans need a net gain of six seats to take control of the Senate. They have accused the president of having political motivations. 

Obama disputed that, noting in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that an influx of unaccompanied children at the Southwest border had factored into his decision. 

"The truth of the matter is that the politics did shift midsummer because of that problem," Obama said on NBC. "I want to spend some time, even as we're getting all our ducks in a row for the executive action, I also want to make sure that the public understands why we're doing this, why it's the right thing for the American people, why it's the right thing for the American economy."

Obama said he would use executive action on immigration before the end of the year, however, because "it's the right thing to do for the country."

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“But it's going to be more sustainable and more effective if the public understands what the facts are on immigration, what we've done on unaccompanied children, and why it's necessary,” Obama said.
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Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) kept up the drumbeat on "Fox News Sunday." “It’s nothing more than raw politics,” motivated by a fear that acting could cost Democrats control of the Senate, he said. 

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Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the highest-ranking Latino in Congress, objected to the delay.

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"I'm deeply disappointed that the president hasn't acted where House Republicans have failed to act," said Menendez on "Fox News Sunday."

Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Los Angeles) said Latinos are "frustrated" with Obama but even more so with a "do-nothing Congress."

"The first blame is with Congress not doing its job and now the president is forced to take a measure like executive actions," Cardenas said on CNN Sunday.

Follow @kurtisalee and email kurtis.lee@latimes.com

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