Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) predicted Friday that President Obama would move to "greatly curtail deportations" of the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants if Republicans refuse to support an overhaul of immigration laws.
"It's crystal clear where the issue of immigration reform is headed, and Republicans have only two choices to make," Schumer said in a message on his Facebook page.
The senator made his prediction after Obama met Thursday evening at the White House with three members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and told them he would ask Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to conduct a review of immigration enforcement policies to find ways to make them more "humane."
Obama has been under growing pressure from Democrats and immigration advocates to use his executive authority to expand a 2012 decision to halt the deportations of young people brought to the country illegally by their parents. But the president has said he is powerless under federal law to do so; White House aides have said they fear Republicans would be less likely to support immigration legislation if Obama takes unilateral action on deportations.
Schumer is a lead author of a comprehensive immigration bill approved by the Senate last June, and his prediction is likely an attempt to ratchet up pressure on Republicans. Last year, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a co-author of the Senate plan, made a similar argument, suggesting Obama would act unilaterally on deportations and arguing that Republicans should support reform legislation in order to help shape policies.
Rubio's strategy failed to garner widespread support for the Senate's plan in the GOP-controlled House, whose leaders have declined to move on comprehensive reform. The Post reported Friday on how the immigration debate has overshadowed the GOP's outreach to Latinos.
The president is scheduled to meet with immigration advocates on Friday.