Perhaps signaling that he will soon enact executive actions to ease even more deportations, President Barack Obama said on Friday that illegal immigrants should not have to “look over their shoulder” while in the country illegally.
At a press conference at the NATO Summit in Wales, Obama said he would act “fairly soon” on executive amnesty after going over proposals and recommendations that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder have provided him.
Obama said that in the “absence of congressional action,” he intends to “take action” to increase resources on the border, upgrade “how we process these cases and that we find a way to encourage legal immigration and give people some path so they can start paying taxes, pay a fine, and learn English.” He asserted that it is important that they not have to “look over their shoulder but be legal since they’ve been living here for quite some time.”
The President went on to say that he was “unequivocal about” wanting comprehensive amnesty legislation, and his “overriding preference is to see Congress act.” But he did not hesitate to note that he would go forward with some type of executive action if Congress does not give him a comprehensive amnesty bill, which is unlikely. Obama had previously said that he would enact executive amnesty “by the end of summer,” but he is reportedly hesitating due to pressure from Senate Democrats, who fear that it could cost the party control of the Senate.
The White House is reportedly considering granting temporary amnesty and work permits to nearly five million illegal immigrants. Activists, such as La Raza CEO Janet Murguia, have also insisted that Obama enable more prosecutorial discretion so illegal immigrant laborers, like landscapers, do not have to fear deportation. Obama said that on his flight back to America, he would review the recommendations and potential executive actions he can take.
On Saturday, Obama will reportedly tape an interview for the inaugural airing of Chuck Todd’s Meet the Press.