By Julia Edwards
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. immigrant groups urged President Barack Obama on Tuesday to hold off on making changes to how the United States deports undocumented immigrants so as not to anger members of Congress who they believe could pass a broad immigration bill that could be more effective at protecting immigrant rights.
Among the groups issuing the statement were the National Immigration Forum and the Service Employees International Union, which were present at a March meeting at the White House when Obama announced he was looking to take unilateral action to curb the number of undocumented immigrants being deported. At the time, the House of Representatives appeared stalled on passing broad reform over concerns the bill would grant amnesty to those who had broken U.S. immigration law.
House Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, have indicated in recent weeks that they might be open to working on such a bill. But they said any changes from the Obama administration would deteriorate their trust in the president to enforce whatever law they may pass.
The advocates said there is a "real window of opportunity" for the House to pass immigration reform before the legislative recess in August and they cautioned Obama against taking unilateral action.
"We believe the President should move cautiously and give the House Leadership all of the space they may need to bring legislation to the floor for a vote," the advocates said in a statement.
But, the statement added, should July pass without a new immigration law, the Obama administration will "have an obligation to use whatever tools are at its disposal."
(Reporting by Julia Edwards; Editing by Dan Grebler)