President Barack Obama announced he is starting "a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own, without Congress." He will reportedly will seek options that shift immigration enforcement from the interior to the border. Obama said he decided to act on his own after Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he would not bring an immigration bill to the House floor “at least for the remainder of this year.”
“I take executive action only when we have a serious problem, a serious issue and Congress chooses to do nothing,” Obama said. “And in this situation, the failure of the House Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad for our economy and bad for the country…I held off on pressuring them for a long time to give Speaker Boehner the space he needed to get his fellow Republicans on board,” but he refuses to act.
Boehner’s office confirmed the conversation with Obama. A spokesman said the speaker told the president, “the American people and their elected officials don’t trust him to enforce the law as written. Until that changes, it is going to be difficult to make progress on this issue.”
Boehner also issued a statement today saying “The president’s own executive orders have led directly to the humanitarian crisis along the southern border, giving false hope to children and their families that if they enter the country illegally they will be allowed to stay…The White House claims it will move to return these children to their families in their home countries, yet additional executive action from this president isn’t going to stem the tide of illegal crossings, it’s only going to make them worse.”
A White House official said the president will direct Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder to shift immigration enforcement resources from the interior to the border, which has seen a mass influx of illegal aliens from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in particular. This would reduce the number of deportations by targeting only recent border crossers and illegal aliens who pose a national security or public safety threat. Obama also wants recommendations by the end of the summer on other actions he can take without congressional approval.
Illegal alien advocates have asked Obama to extend to additional illegal aliens the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which gives so-called DREAMers a stay of deportation and work permit. Obama has previously said he did not have authority to expand DACA, but White House officials are reportedly reviewing all options for making immigration laws more “humane.”
This morning, Obama wrote congressional leaders seeking more funds and latitude to address the recent border surge. His latest announcement sends mixed signals to those considering crossing the border illegally. Obama is effectively saying that he will beef up border enforcement but will not target those who can make it to the interior of the country.
Updated: Mon, Jul 14th 2014 @ 5:15pm EDT