Latino groups in six major cities across the country, including Atlanta, launched a new campaign Wednesday to hold President Barack Obama accountable for record high deportations during his presidency.
Latino advocacy groups are calling on President Obama to issue an executive order stopping all deportations.
Peaulina Helm-Hernandez with Southerners On New Ground says the President should stop blaming Republicans for stalling immigration reform.
“He has sat on his hands for far too long trying to bring about some sort of bi-partisan solution that we don’t see in the near horizon,” said Helm-Hernandez. “And so while we want to continue to build and work toward comprehensive immigration reform as a national solution, we think that he has the power to act now.”
Helm-Hernandez says immigrant deportations have reached a crisis level.
In Georgia, 25 to 30 thousand people have been deported since 2007.
“We know that he has the power to also halt deportations as they are right now for people who are in deportation procedures today. So this whole thing about ‘We’re looking to the horizon to see what Congress will deliver’ is simply not good enough, ” said Helm-Hernandez.
Latino groups across the country are also asking the President to abolish the Secure Communities program. They say the program resulted in racial profiling of Latinos.
The Department of Homeland Security checks fingerprints of those arrested in 3,000 local jurisdictions. Federal officials then determine whether that person should be deported.
Latino advocacy groups weren’t the only ones pushing for immigration reform on Wednesday.
House Democrats are also pushing for a vote on a comprehensive immigration bill that would provide a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally. The bill would also tighten border security.
The Democrats were introducing a discharge petition that requires 219 votes for legislative action.
In response to the petition, President Obama issued a statement Wednesday morning calling immigration reform the right thing to do.
He says the only thing standing in the way is the unwillingness of Republicans in Congress to catch up with the rest of the country.
Contributors: This report also contains material from the Associated Press.