Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Saturday won praise from fellow Democrats for his record on immigration issues as he appeared at a campaign rally in Chicago for Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.).
O’Malley, who is weighing a 2016 White House bid, spoke at an event at the National Museum of Mexican Art as part of a weekend swing through three midwestern states. He has appearances planned with other Democrats on Sunday in Iowa and Wisconsin.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), who addressed the rally in Chicago before O’Malley, credited Maryland’s governor for questioning the Obama administration’s response to the wave of unaccompanied child migrants coming across the U.S. border from Central America.
“He wasn’t afraid to challenge the president to implement a more humane approach to the refugee crisis,” Gutierrez, a leading advocate for immigration reforms in Congress, said according to an audio recording of the event. “He doesn’t just talk, he walks the walk.”
Gutierrez also touted O’Malley’s support of Maryland’s version of the Dream Act, which grants in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants, and of a measure allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.
During his remarks, O’Malley praised Durbin for his work in the Senate on immigration issues, including the federal version of the Dream Act.
O’Malley also talked about his tenure as mayor of Baltimore, as city he said received more immigrants in the late 1800s than any other U.S. city but New York.
“Their first language was not English, but the dream they carried in their heart was purely an American dream,” O’Malley said.
The rally came as news spread that President Obama will not announce any plans to take executive action to change immigration policy until after the November elections, despite promising in June that he would act before the end of summer.
O’Malley, whose tenure as governor ends in January, has said he is preparing for a potential presidential bid regardless of whether Hillary Rodham Clinton runs. Aides say O’Malley has not made a decision about whether to move forward.