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Miami Archbishop, Immigrant Rights Leaders Urge Obama To Stop Deportations

C.M. Guerrero
El Nuevo Herald

South Florida is seeing a larger influx of undocumented immigrants, especially Central Americans fleeing violence in their home countries. As a result, Miami’s Roman Catholic Archbishop Thomas Wenski joined leaders from the Florida Immigrant Coalition Thursday morning at the downtown Freedom Tower. 

He urged President Obama to keep his pledge and stop deporting law-abiding undocumented immigrants in this country – at least until Congress acts on immigration reform.

“To alleviate the sufferings of untold millions," Wenski said, "we call on the President to provide relief.”

That may be harder now after the near sweep of Tuesday’s mid-term elections by Republicans. The party’s conservative base largely opposes such executive action. The U.S. Senate’s likely new leader, Republican Mitch McConnell, said this week in fact that taking the executive action would be like “waving a red flag in front of a bull.”

But Wenski believes enough Republicans do want immigration reform: “We always have to appeal to our political leaders’ best angels."

Immigrant Coalition chairwoman Marleine Bastien, who heads the group Haitian Women of Miami, appealed to Obama’s legacy.

“Is it going to be Deporter in Chief," Bastien asked, "or is it going to be compassionate?”

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida.