Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday that the Obama administration will have to act alone on stemming deportations if the House does not move on immigration reform by the end of the summer.  Reid maintains that the best solution on immigration is a sweeping rewrite led by Congress, but in his remarks this week, he  appears to be acquiescing on the thorny question of whether the administration should use executive authority to halt deportations. Democrats, including Reid, are under pressure from immigration advocates to take a tougher stance against the President on deportations, urging Obama to take action administratively while immigration reform remains stalled.

The issue for Reid and other Democrats is timing as they believe there is a very narrow window of about six weeks this summer from mid June to the end of July for the Republican-led House to move immigration bills.  Reid and other Democrats want the focus this summer to be on Republican lawmakers not the administration.

“We’ve waited 329 days, we’re willing to wait another six weeks,” Reid said, referring to the number of days that have passed since his chamber passed a comprehensive reform bill.  “But at the end of six weeks, if something has not been done, then there’s gonna have to be a move made.  And, it’s too bad we have to do that because we all know things can be done administratively, but it’s better to change the law,” Reid said.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-OH) has repeatedly said that most Republicans want to act on immigration but do not trust the president to enforce the law.

As a response to that Republican sentiment, Reid also endorsed this week an idea first suggested by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), which is to pass a bill this year, but have it take effect in January 2017 under a new president.  “To be clear, delaying immigration reform is not my preference,” Reid said,  “but I feel so strongly that this bill needs to get done I’m willing to show flexibility.”  “Since Republicans don’t trust President Obama,” he said, “if a bill were passed that would not take effect until 2017,  Republicans no longer can use President Obama as an excuse not to pass a bill.”