A defiant President Barack Obama lashed out at Republicans in response to a decision by the deadlocked Supreme Court that blocked his executive actions on immigration reform.
“The fact that the Supreme Court wasn’t able to issue a decision today doesn’t just set the system back even further, it takes us further from the country that we aspire to be,” Obama said during a speech at the White House today.
He specifically denounced presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s proposal to deport all illegal immigrants and build a wall on the southern border.
“In fact, that is the real amnesty — pretending we can deport 11 million people or build a wall without spending tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer money — is abetting what is really just factually incorrect,” Obama said. “It’s not going to work. It’s not good for this country. It’s a fantasy that offers nothing to help the middle class.”
Obama also implicitly accused critics of his executive amnesty for being racist after successfully blocking his proposals.
“We don’t have to wall ourselves off from those who may not look like us right now or pray like we do or have a different last name because being an American is about something more than that,” he said.
He also condemned his opponents for campaigning against immigration reform, citing “spasms of politics” and “fear mongering.”
“During election years politicians tend to use the immigration issue to scare people with words like ‘amnesty’ in hopes that it will whip up votes,” he said.
Obama admitted that he was unlikely to enact any more executive action on immigration reform during his presidency, something Hillary Clinton has vowed to do if elected his successor.
“On the specifics of immigration, I don’t anticipate that there are additional executive actions that we can take,” he said.
While Obama admitted his failure to enact comprehensive immigration, he urged Americans to vote for the issue in November.
“We have to decide whether we are people who accept the cruelty of ripping children from parents’ arms or whether we actually value families,” he said.
Obama vowed that immigration reform would happen in the future, despite Republican obstruction, citing a majority of support for the issue.
“I promise you this, though, sooner or later immigration reform will get done,” he said. “Congress is not going to be able to ignore America forever. It’s just not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when.”
In spite of his defeat, Obama reminded illegal immigrants that they were not likely to be deported by federal law enforcement agents.
“We prioritize criminals. We prioritize gangbangers. We prioritize folks who have just come in,” Obama said. “What we don’t do is prioritize people who have been here a long time who are otherwise law abiding, who have roots and connections in their communities.”
Obama also reached out to the so-called DREAMers — children of illegal immigrants who were brought by their parents to the country.
“You can have confidence that you are not going to be deported but, it does not resolve your ultimate status,” he said.