LAS VEGAS — Republican congressional candidate Danny Tarkanian said President Barack Obama changed his deportation policy just months before the election to use Hispanics as a “political tool” to win a second term.
Speaking in Las Vegas on Wednesday to a breakfast hosted by Hispanics in Politics, Tarkanian criticized Obama for not delivering on his promise to enact immigration reform and suggested the president intended to use the issue as a re-election ploy to energize Latino voters.
“Why wasn’t it passed?” Tarkanian asked. “Maybe it wasn’t passed because ... They wanted it to be used as a political tool. ... They’re using it as a tool to get votes.”
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports Tarkanian’s remarks didn’t sit well with some in attendance who blamed Republicans for blocking a comprehensive immigration overhaul in Congress and opposing the DREAM Act. That proposal backed by Democrats would provide a pathway for some young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to obtain citizenship if they attend college or join the military.
In June, Obama eased enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws, saying the move was necessary and the “right thing to do” for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation.
Tarkanian has said he opposed the DREAM Act, but Wednesday said he believes military service should qualify immigrants for citizenship. He said he didn’t agree with the president using executive power to relax immigration enforcement because the action “wasn’t passed in Congress.”
When one activist said it wasn’t easy to pass laws in Congress, Tarkanian countered that Democrats controlled the House and Senate when Obama took office, but he only recently made immigration policy a priority.
“Why did he wait until just before this election to do this political stunt?” Tarkanian asked.