A Thanksgiving Day op-ed in the Sacramento Bee, jointly written by the Most Rev. Stephen Blaire, bishop of Stockton, Calif., and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, urged President Obama to use his executive power to end the deportations of illegal immigrants:
"While we commend President Barack Obama’s strong commitment to humane and responsible reform, we now stand together again to urge him to halt the deportations of immigrants who would achieve legal status and eventual citizenship under the Senate bill. It is inconsistent to advocate on behalf of immigrants and their families on one hand — including giving them an opportunity for citizenship — and devastate and separate their families through enforcement actions on the other."
The op-ed came just three days after President Obama was heckled by an immigration activist during a speech in San Francisco. The activist interrupted Obama to say: "Please use your executive order to halt deportations for all 11.5 [million] undocumented immigrants in this country right now."
The president replied that he couldn't do that: "Now, what you need to know, when I’m speaking as president of the United States and I come to this community, is that if, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so. But we’re also a nation of laws. That’s part of our tradition. And so the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws."
The president's comments were more than a bit disingenuous, though, given that he has not always shown such such deference to Congress. Last year, he acted unilaterally to stop the deportation of children illegally brought into the United States, after legislation to do so died in Congress.