President Obama sent a strong message to illegal immigrants counting on the legality of his executive actions on immigration reform at a Wednesday town hall. He said that the Texas ruling against him was only temporary and that he would hold immigration officials accountable to his directives.
“Unfortunately a group of Republican governors sued,” Obama admitted, referring to the Texas court ruling against his actions. “They found a District Court judge who enjoined … but that’s just the first part of the process. This is just one federal judge.”
Obama reminded the audience that the White House was appealing the decision “very aggressively.”
“We’re going to be as aggressive as we can,” he said during the immigration town hall event in Miami co-hosted by MSNBC and Telemundo at Florida International University.
Obama warned Republicans that he would veto any effort to block his actions.
“In the short term if Mr. McConnell, the leader of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, want to have vote over whether what I’m doing is legal or not they can have that vote,” he explained as the crowd applauded. “I will veto that vote because I’m absolutely confident it’s the right thing we do.”
Obama encouraged illegal immigrants who might be worried about being deported while seeking legal status not to be concerned.
“There are going to be some jurisdictions and there may be individual ICE official or Border Control agent not paying attention to our new directives. But they’re going to be answerable to the head of Homeland Security because he’s been very clear about what our priorities will be,” he said.
He also encouraged all illegal immigrants to get their paperwork in order and warned all immigration officials to abide by his new executive directives.
“If somebody’s working for ICE … and they don’t follow the policy, there’s going to be consequences to it,” he said.
The format of the town hall was carefully guided by the White House and the organizers. According to the Miami Herald, tickets for the event were not publicly available, instead distributed by organizers.
Although the event began at 3:45 p.m. this afternoon, a strict embargo was placed on the audio and video until 7:00 p.m. when Telemundo aired it’s tape of the event.
White House pool reporters were strictly held to the embargo as well, not allowed to distribute text of the event until 7:00 p.m.
White House photographers were allowed access at the end of the event to photograph the president and MSNBC host Jose Diaz-Balart together.