Speaking to the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Washington, O’Malley was asked by Javier Palomarez, the group’s president, whether he would pursue reform within the symbolically important time span.
“Absolutely,” O’Malley said.
The governor argued the issue was not only one of fairness for the millions of immigrants who currently live in the United States without legal documentation, but one that is “essential for our American economy.”
The immigration promise is a practical one for O’Malley, who will have to outflank Hillary Clinton, the race’s frontrunner, on immigration in order to be successful in the nomination fight. Last month, Clinton used a roundtable discussion in Las Vegas to outline a broad immigration plan that would go further than Obama has.
Clinton called for “a path to full and equal citizenship” and for the United States to allow the parents of “Dreamers,” or undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children, to stay in the country just like their children can under Obama’s 2012 executive action.
As he has positioned himself to run in a Democratic field dominated by Hillary Rodham Clinton, O’Malley has made frequent mention of his record on immigration. He often recounts a battle last summer with the White House, when he denounced the administration’s efforts to return migrant children to their home countries after they illegally crossed the border from Central America. And O’Malley has emphasized his decision to limit Maryland’s cooperation with federal officials on deportations from a state-run jail.
President Barack Obama used his executive authority in 2014 to implement the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents and the expansion of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that permits teenagers and young adults who were born outside of the United States, but raised in the country, to apply for protection from deportation and for employment authorizations.
Both O’Malley and Clinton’s statements raise legal questions. Judges in 26 states are challenging Obama’s executive action on immigration and despite it being good politics to say you would go further than the President on the issue, it is unclear whether Clinton or O’Malley could legally do so.
Earlier this year, a judge in Texas temporarily blocked Obama’s executive action on immigration. A federal appeals court judge denied a Justice Department request late last month to allow the reform to go into effect pending appeal.
O’Malley headed to New Hampshire on Sunday. While he may be running as a more liberal counterpoint to Clinton, he’s not as liberal as Sanders. He is the third to announce his bid for the Democratic nomination, joining Clinton and Vermont Sen.
Still, with his slogan “New Leadership”, O’Malley clearly and rightfully believes that there is a number of Democratic primary voters who don’t want a coronation. “I back Hillary, admire her greatly”. “It is an awesome and sacred trust to be earned and exercised on behalf of the American people”. But he is drawing a contrast with Clinton on the issue of Wall Street reform and says Democratic voters are hungry for an alternative.
“Tell me how it is, that not a single Wall Street CEO was convicted of a crime related to the 2008 economic meltdown?”
“I regret that as a state, we weren’t quicker to implement body cameras”, O’Malley said. “Tell me how it is that you can get pulled over for a broken tail light in our country”, he said, “but if you wreck the nation’s economy, you are untouchable”. By Saturday afternoon, Clinton had tweeted, “Welcome to the race, Gov. O’Malley”. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article. “Governor O’Malley has the progressive values and record of getting things done to take these challenges on”.
“We won’t stick our finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing”, a narrator began. He oversaw a sweeping gun-control measure and a repeal of the death penalty.
O’Malley has made several appearances in Iowa this year, has two paid staffers in the state and plans to add more. A March Washington Post-ABC poll showed O’Malley had the support of just 1 percent of the public nationally. Supporters note the overall decrease in violent crime during his tenure.