Monday, Jan. 27, 2014 | 4:11 p.m.
WASHINGTON — Nevada’s Democratic House members have signed on to an appeal insisting President Barack Obama stop the practice of deporting immigrants without authorization to be in the United States.
Nevada Democratic Reps. Dina Titus and Steven Horsford argued that halting deportations “would move us in the direction of where the immigration debate rightfully should start, with the legalization of 11 million men and women who call the United States their home.”
Thirty-four Democratic lawmakers signed the letter to Obama that was released publicly today.
It is the second time in as many months that Titus has signed on to such a letter insisting the president halt deportations.
The appeal comes the day before Obama is scheduled to make his annual State of the Union address. He is expected to urge Congress to take meaningful steps toward passing immigration reform in the House.
The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill in June, but the House has yet to hold a vote on any similar piece of legislation.
Immigrants hoping to attain legal status through an overhaul of the country’s immigration laws and their supporters have urged Obama to use his executive authority to halt deportations.
Despite instituting policies such as a deferred-action policy for unauthorized immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, the Obama administration has carried out more deportations than under President George W. Bush.
Not all members of Congress think that is a bad thing. A number of lawmakers — especially within the ranks of the Republican Party — maintain deportations are the best way of enforcing immigration laws.
Republicans control the House, and party leaders determine which bills make it to the floor for a vote.
Given that political reality, it’s not likely Obama will risk stoking immigration divisions by heeding Titus and Horsford’s pleas to, as Horsford said today, “use his pen and phone to keep families together.”
In fiscal 2013, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement removed 368,644 immigrants without authorization to be in the United States; of those, 133,551 were caught within the United States. By ICE’s statistics, 82 percent had been previously convicted of some crime.