Obama Immigration Executive Action: National Council of La Raza President Janet Murguia Clarifies 'Deporter-in-Chief' Label, Usage of 'Illegal' Immigrant
The president of the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States (U.S.), the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), revealed she knew about President Barack Obama's immigration executive action before his Nov. 20 primetime address.
"I knew a lot of what he was going to say before he said it," said NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguia. "I met with the president that day, that afternoon."
She also commented on using the term "Deporter-in-Chief," referring to the record number of immigrants deported during Obama's tenure in the White House.
"When we had seen the deportations, the number of deportations hit two million -- a historic high and much higher than the previous administration under George Bush -- there was a lot of frustration and anger in our community but I actually used that term to really highlight how off-based Speaker [John] Boehner was when he said that the reason he couldn't move a bill forward on comprehensive immigration reform is because he couldn't trust President Obama to enforce the laws when in fact, and the fact is, at least two million people have been deported in this fifth year of the Obama presidency."
Murguia said she was trying to capture the emotions felt among the Latino community and came to the conclusion that Congress was not serious about moving forward on comprehensive immigration reform legislation. She said NCLR had pushed hard for solutions and will continue to do so since Obama's immigration executive actions are only temporary solutions. With the congressional inaction, Murguia said the support did transition for administrative action in order to address the rate of deportations.
"We understood and do continue to understand that it's important for us as a community to use our voice and to use our political power in the ballot boxes in every elections," said Murguia, on addressing issues affecting Latinos on an administrative, legislative and electoral front.
"It was a very strategic effort on our part to really push back on both sides, on Republicans and on Democrats, to do what they could," Murguia added about the "Deporter-in-Chief" phrase.
When asked if Murguia would come forward and utilize the deferred action relief created by Obama, had she been an "illegal" immigrant, the NCLR president clarified the usage of "illegal" as an offensive term for the Latino community, "because an act can be illegal but a human being is not illegal. It's very demeaning from a humanitarian standpoint." Murguia added that many undocumented immigrants are in the U.S. for different reasons and usually is the "last act of desperation" in order to provide opportunity for their family or their own survival. If she would come forward to apply for the deferred action programs, she said "absolutely" with no worry.
Murguia said efforts will be underway by NCLR and its affiliates to have undocumented immigrants understand the deferred action programs, and noted that if more people apply, then it could signal for better efforts for a long-term solution.
Despite the new 114th Congress being in control by the Republican Party, Murguia had no concerns about potential disruptions by the GOP. She said political opponents need to understand that Latinos are becoming the fastest group of voters in the country, and Latino voters will be watching presidential nominees on their stance on immigration.
"I believe that the next president of the United States will have to come right through the Latino community to get to the White House, and they have to be very thoughtful of how they position themselves on immigration and I think they have to stay away from this executive order and not try to undo it if they want to be president," said Murguia.
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