President Barack Obama on Tuesday assured he would not use his executive authority to halt deportations for the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country.
Obama told Spanish-language television network Telemundo that the move is “not an option,” as quoted by the Washington Post.
The president said his decision to defer deportations for DREAMers, or undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, was intended to give federal agencies adequate time and resources to devote to high-priority immigration cases. He added that expanding deferments beyond DREAMers “would be ignoring the law in a way that would be very difficult to defend legally,” as quoted by the Post.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) warned in August that Obama may act unilaterally to legalize undocumented immigrants by executive order if Congress fails to act on immigration reform.
Obama also called on House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to bring the Senate’s immigration reform plan to a vote in his chamber.
“He shouldn’t be afraid of majority opinion on this thing,” Obama said, as quoted by the Post. “If in fact the overwhelming majority of the American people think we need to do something on immigration — we’ve got a bipartisan bill — why not go ahead and let it come to the floor of the House and let’s see what happens?”
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.