Prompted by a conversation with Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), President Barack Obama said Monday he is done waiting for Congress to act and taking steps to reform nation’s immigration system through administrative action.
“America cannot wait forever for them to act. That’s why today I am beginning a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own, without Congress,” Obama said in the Rose Garden, with Vice President Joe Biden by his side. The President lamented that Republicans have “proven again and again that they’re unwilling to stand up against the Tea Party.”
At an event celebrating professional golfers last week, Boehner told Obama “Republicans will continue to block a vote on immigration reform at least until the remainder of this year,” Obama said.
In a statement, Boehner said “In our conversation last week, I told the president what I have been telling him for months: 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.”
Obama said he will direct Homeland Security Sec. Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder to figure out what Obama can do unilaterally to fix the nation’s immigration system, in addition to shifting resources southward to secure the border.
“I’ve also directed Sec. Johnson and Attorney Gen. Holder to identify additional actions my administration can take on our own, within my existing legal authorities, to do what Congress refuses to do and fix as much of our immigration system as we can,” he said. “If Congress will not do their job at least we can do ours.”
The president said he would be expecting the recommendations by the end of the summer and that he “intends to adopt those recommendations without further delay.” He added that he still would like Congress to move forward with immigration reform for a more comprehensive solution.
Boehner quickly hit back at the president. “It is sad and disappointing that – faced with this challenge – President Obama won’t work with us, but is instead intent on going it alone with executive orders that can’t and won’t fix these problems,” he said.
Obama further asserted that the reason he takes executive actions is due to Congress’ inaction.
“I don’t prefer taking administrative action. I’d rather see permanent fixes to the issue we face. Certainly that’s true on immigration. I’ve made that clear multiple times,” he said.
“I take executive action only when we have a serious problem, a serious issue, and Congress chooses to do nothing,” he stressed. And in this situation, the failure of Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad for our security, it’s bad for our economy, and its bad for our future,” Obama added.
Meanwhile Boehner blamed Obama’s executive orders for the ongoing crisis of unaccompanied minors illegally crossing the southwest border.
“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,” Boehner said. “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.”