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Obama’s action would be moot if Congress would act on immigration, says CBF head

By Bob Allen

While opinions differ on President Obama’s use of executive power, Congress still needs to act on long-term immigration reform, says Cooperative Baptist Fellowship leader Suzii Paynter.

Suzii-Paynter“No matter where we stand on administrative action, it’s only a temporary measure, not a permanent answer to a system that isn’t working,” Paynter, executive coordinator of the Decatur, Ga.-based CBF said in an email. “Congress simply must act to replace a broken system that is hurting families, communities and our economy.”

Last week Obama announced that his administration would prioritize the deportation of criminals and recent arrivals, lifting the threat of deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants who have been living in the United States longer than five years and have children who are American citizens.

Conservatives criticized the decision as overreach by the executive branch, while progressives say he is acting in the same way as Republican presidents including Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Paynter, who met with the president in the Oval Office in April, at the time advised him not to take any executive actions on immigration. “If the president starts doing a lot of stuff on immigration it just polarizes everything,” she said after the meeting in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

According to the Washington Post, the last straw for Obama came when House Speaker John Boehner refused to promise that if the White House delayed action he would bring up a bill after the recent election.

Paynter said it’s now time for Congress to take the lead on enacting “real reform that respects the rule of law, boosts the economy and keeps families intact.”

“A new Congress has a golden opportunity to present a clear vision on immigrants and immigration in America,” Paynter said. “They can pass legislation that makes administrative action moot and take credit for replacing our broken immigration system.”

Paynter, a former lobbyist for Texas Baptists elected last year to lead the 1,800-church Fellowship, has made it a priority to highlight the 23-year-old movement’s role in advocacy on social issues congruent with its long-held missions philosophy of focusing resources on the needs of the marginalized.

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SBC leader criticizes Obama’s immigration initiative, while other faith leaders praise it