On Thursday, President Barack Obama addressed the nation from the White House and took questions from the press corps on a range of issues including immigration. The President is expected to issue another executive order that would grant work permits or some sort of legal status to a large portion of the 11 million illegal aliens in the country.
This week, rumors spiraled that the President is looking to delay the controversial announcement until after the midterm elections due to pressure from vulnerable Senate Democrats up for re-election and vocal pro-enforcement activists.
Here is the transcript of the President's exchange with a White House reporter:
Question: "Mr. President, how are external events and your executive decision-making going to impact your decision on immigration reform? Some people say you’re going to delay this."
THE PRESIDENT: "Let me just say this: I’ve been very clear about the fact that our immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed. And my preference continues to be that Congress act. I don’t think anybody thinks that Congress is going to act in the short term, but hope springs eternal that after the midterm elections they may act.
In the meantime, what I’ve asked Jeh Johnson to do is to look at what kinds of executive authorities we have in order to make the system work better. And we’ve had a lot of stakeholder discussions; that set of proposals is being worked up.
And the one thing that I think has happened was the issue with unaccompanied children that got so much attention a couple of months back. And part of the reason that was important was not because that represented a huge unprecedented surge in overall immigration at the border, but I do think that it changed the perception of the American people about what’s happening at the borders.
And so one of the things we’ve had -- have had to do is to work through systematically to make sure that that specific problem in a fairly defined area of the border, that we’re starting to deal with that in a serious way. And the good news is we’ve started to make some progress. I mean, what we’ve seen so far is that throughout the summer the number of apprehensions have been decreasing -- maybe that’s counterintuitive, but that’s a good thing because that means that fewer folks are coming across. The number of apprehensions in August are down from July, and they’re actually lower than they were August of last year. Apprehensions in July were half of what they were in June. So we’re seeing a significant downward trend in terms of these unaccompanied children.
And what that I think allows us to do is to make sure that those kids are being taken care of properly, with due process. At the same time, it’s allowed us to then engage in a broader conversation about what we need to do to get more resources down at the border. It would have been helped along if Congress had voted for the supplemental that I asked for; they did not. That means we’ve got to make some administrative choices and executive choices about, for example, getting more immigration judges down there.
So that has kept us busy, but it has not stopped the process of looking more broadly about how do we get a smarter immigration system in place while we’re waiting for Congress to act. And it continues to be my belief that if I can’t see congressional action, that I need to do at least what I can in order to make the system work better.
But some of these things do affect timelines, and we’re just going to be working through as systematically as possible in order to get this done. But have no doubt, in the absence of congressional action, I’m going to do what I can to make sure the system works better."
Updated: Fri, Sep 12th 2014 @ 4:45pm EDT