An Illinois congressman warned a "civil war" within the Democratic Party could ignite if President Barack Obama delays or fails to act on an immigration reform executive action.

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill., 4th District, said Latino voters could punish candidates aligned with the Democratic Party in the midterm elections because of the inaction from Obama. Gutiérrez said the president's delay to execute an executive action on immigration withdrew the enthusiasm many Latino voters had. In an interview with the Guardian, Gutiérrez believes the executive action will be delivered "before Christmas" but warned that the Democratic Party may suffer the consequences if Obama doesn't act enough.

"This problem that you see, politically, is nothing in comparison to the civil war that will be created politically in the Democratic Party should the president not be broad and generous in his use of prosecutorial discretion," Gutiérrez said. "Because Latinos will not be deciding whether or not they vote, but whether or not they are in the Democratic Party."

Gutiérrez's statement comes after he partnered with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., 12th District, and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., 19th District, to write why Obama has the authority to act on immigration. The lawmakers agreed that they "are confident" Obama will act on addressing immigration. Gutiérrez, Lofgren and Pelosi said the Republican claims that Obama has no authority to act are false, and he has "broad authority" to have the U.S. immigration system better.

Gutiérrez, Lofgren and Pelosi said every presidential administration since President Dwight D. Eisenhower has used executive action to address immigration, including Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

"Presidents have used this authority repeatedly in the face of congressional inaction...President Obama could defer action against persons who would be covered by the Senate-passed bill that Republicans blocked," wrote Gutiérrez, Lofgren and Pelosi.

The three politicians added that Obama could act to prevent the separation of families with a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was created by Obama via executive action in 2012. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 553,197 undocumented immigrants are DACA recipients and therefore deferred from deportation based on certain criteria.

"Once again, this authority is not unprecedented," the Democratic representatives noted.

Gutiérrez, Lofgren and Pelosi reiterated that immigration reform opponents want people to believe an executive action would be equal to "rewriting the immigration laws." The three Democratic representatives acknowledged any president cannot rewrite laws but recognized that Congress and the Constitution gave presidents broad authority to take executive action on immigration policy. Furthermore, they noted past presidents have used this authority on immigration "generously," and Obama will act based on "established authority under existing law."


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