- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, the most prominent leader of the immigration legalization movement, said Wednesday that President Obama showed “disdain and disrespect” for immigrants this year and Latino voters punished Democrats for it at the polls.

The Illinois Democrat said in breaking his promise to claim executive powers to legalize many illegal immigrants Mr. Obama hamstrung his party, energizing GOP opponents and leaving Hispanic voters, who are a key to Democrats’ coalition, on the sidelines.

With both chambers of Congress now about to be held by Republicans, Mr. Gutierrez said that leaves it squarely up to the president to try to rescue his party with Latinos, and the key to that will be issuing orders to grant work permits to as many illegal immigrants as possible.

“We’re hungry for justice, we’re hungry for fairness. Do not try to serve us half a loaf,” the congressman said at a press conference in Chicago, where he was joined by immigrant-rights advocates.

Pressure is building on Mr. Obama to make good on his promise, made earlier this year, to try to halt deportations and grant tentative legal status to millions of illegal immigrants in the U.S. The advocates said the president could legalize more than 6 million using his own powers.

The president had vowed to act by the end of the summer but put that off in order not to give voters a chance to rebuke him at the polls.

Mr. Gutierrez said voters rebuked him anyway, while on the other side Latino voters were disheartened and didn’t show up to support Democrats.

Exit polling, however, showed Hispanics did continue to boost Democrats, making up 8 percent of the vote, just as they did in 2010, with only a slight drop in Democratic support. In 2010, exit polls showed 66 percent of Hispanics voted Democratic in House races, while on Tuesday that total was 63 percent.

The exit polls also showed immigration played only a small role in most voters’ minds, and it was a motivating factor more for Republicans than for Democrats. Those GOP voters tended to oppose legalization and want to see illegal immigrants deported.

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