During his speech from San Francisco on Monday, President Obama was heckled by someone from an unexpected group: one of the people selected to stand onstage behind him.
Near the end of Obama's speech, a man standing about five rows behind him interrupted the president to call for the president to sign an executive order ending the deportation of undocumented immigrants. For a brief period, the man and and others in the audience chanted, "Stop deportation! Yes, we can!" When Secret Service moved in to remove the protestor, Obama told them not to.
Instead, the president — clearly miffed — explained why he couldn't unilaterally halt the deportation process. "You have the power to stop the deportation process," the young man said. "Actually, I don't," Obama responded.
If in fact I could solve all these problems without passing something in Congress, I would do so. But we're also a nation of laws. That's part of our tradition. And so the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws. What I'm proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic process to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve. But it won't be as easy as just shouting. It requires lobbying and getting this done.
Here's the clip. (The heckler starts about 40 seconds in.)
In 2011, the Obama administration saw its millionth deportation. In July, we looked at the Republican plan to increase border security to prevent such immigration — including the decline in apprehensions since 2004, and increase in deportations over that same time period.
The deportation surge is fed by programs like Secure Communities, which does immigration checks on everyone arrested by local and state law enforcement, and Operation Streamline, in which border crossers in the Southwest are prosecuted en masse, with little access to legal representation. Mr. Obama turned the dragnet on, and can turn it off. In marches and vigils across the country, protesters have made one plea on deportations to Mr. Obama: “Not one more.” He should heed it.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.