OPINION

Ruben Gallego: With executive action, Obama calls GOP’s bluff

President Barack Obama speaks at the 'ConnectED to the Future', in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014.  The president will travel to Las Vegas Friday, a Democratic official said, heightening anticipation that he will announce executive orders on immigration this week. The president is expected to take administrative steps to protect as many as 5 million people in the country illegally from deportation, and grant them work permits. Republicans are vehemently opposed to the president's likely actions, with some conservative members threatening to pursue a government shutdown if Obama follows through on his promises to act on immigration before the end of the year. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Barack Obama speaks at the 'ConnectED to the Future', in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014. The president will travel to Las Vegas Friday, a Democratic official said, heightening anticipation that he will announce executive orders on immigration this week. The president is expected to take administrative steps to protect as many as 5 million people in the country illegally from deportation, and grant them work permits. Republicans are vehemently opposed to the president's likely actions, with some conservative members threatening to pursue a government shutdown if Obama follows through on his promises to act on immigration before the end of the year. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The president’s decision to go ahead and take executive action was the right one for millions of families who are working hard, have strong ties to their community and are contributing to our country.

President Obama gave Republicans the space and time to act. But rather than act, Republicans made every possible excuse and refused to move on legislation.

Republicans need to demonstrate willingness and credibility on this issue. Threatening to shut down the government, impeach the President or hold up confirmation of nominees during the 114th congress isn't the way to do that.

- Rep.-elect Ruben Gallego

In the months leading up to the President’s decision, Republicans threatened to shut down the government and impeach the President if he acted. They also said that the President issuing an executive order would threaten the future of immigration reform. Despite years of inaction, Republicans insisted that this time they really meant business on immigration reform.

But that argument is just as disingenuous as the rest of the rhetoric we’ve heard from Republicans for years when it comes to immigration.

We’ve seen what waiting on Republicans gets. It’s time to act.

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Executive action does not prevent Republicans from acting on comprehensive immigration reform. If anything, President Obama is giving Republicans an opportunity to present their own solution to fix our broken immigration system.

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake said yesterday that rather than blocking President Obama’s action on immigration, Republicans should be focused on passing immigration reform. While Senator Flake and I disagree on much, I certainly agree with that point.  

Flake and the Arizonans he represents know how multi-faceted our immigration issues are.  There is neither a simple Republican nor easy Democratic answer to the problems presented by our broken immigration system. And those harmed by our current policies don’t fall into any single constituency.

Our schools suffer, our businesses suffer, our communities suffer and our families suffer. If you talk to the people I will soon represent in Arizona, you’ll hear that everybody is impacted by our broken immigration system. The President’s executive action recognizes this fact, but we need to keep pushing.

Comprehensive immigration reform is the long-term solution we need – and I fully recognize that we won’t get there without compromise from both sides. But families are being torn apart right now and Republicans have proven that they are unwilling to move on this issue.

Every President in the past 70 years has taken executive action on immigration and used prosecutorial discretion to set priorities for immigration enforcement.

President Obama took the necessary steps within his authority to move our country forward. Now it's up to Republicans to work with the President and help permanently solve the issues with our immigration system.

I hope more Republicans join Flake and fellow Arizona Senator John McCain in pushing for immigration reform so we can start a real debate. But until that happens, Republicans need to demonstrate willingness and credibility on this issue. Threatening to shut down the government, impeach the President or hold up confirmation of nominees during the 114th congress isn't the way to do that.

Throughout my campaign, I heard over and over again how frustrated people in our community are with Washington’s inability to act. They told me they didn’t trust Republicans and were losing faith that Democrats would deliver.

For my district, our broken immigration system isn't an issue to debate — it has a major impact on our every day lives.

Like me, many of the people I represent have family on both sides of the border. And many of the organizers who worked for my campaign were DREAMers who are in this country through no decision of their own, but still don’t get access to the same opportunities as any other young person raised in this country.

Our immigration problems are complex, but delay only worsens the situation for those waiting on Washington.

President Obama did the right thing by taking executive action. If Republicans are serious about passing comprehensive immigration reform, I’ll be among the many Democrats eager to work with them.

In the meantime, I applaud the President’s leadership in providing temporary relief to the undocumented community and taking action to help our economy and strengthen our national security.

Ruben Gallego is the Congressman Elect of Arizona's seventh congressional district

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