President Obama took a few moments at the White House’s festive Cinco de Mayo celebration to reflect upon the ups and downs of his attempts to enact immigration reform in the United States, noting that he wanted to remind people in the light of recent setbacks that progress does not always move in a straight line.
It has been over a year since immigration advocates denounced Obama as “the deporter in chief”. These days the president is seen in a far warmer light; however, immigration reform is a policy that has arguably presented Obama with the most challenges and the president has still not fully realized his aim of fixing the country’s broken system, with his recent executive action on the issue now facing judicial review.
“Sometimes you have to take this turn and that turn, go over this mountain and that valley,” the president noted to the guests invited to observe the Mexican festival at the White House. At the Cinco de Mayo celebration in 2014 Obama was still holding out hope that Republicans in the House of Representatives might follow the Senate’s lead and pass comprehensive immigration reform; when that did not happen, pro-immigrant groups demanded that the president acted on his own.
In November Obama did just this, taking executive action to enact a wide range of changes to existing immigration law and potentially sparing as many as five million undocumented immigrants from deportation. This act was called “one of the most significant immigration policy changes in the last decade” by the National Immigration Law Center’s executive director, Marielena Hincape.