After he was heckled by a protester on stage with him on Monday, President Barack Obama conceded that he did not have the executive power to stop all deportations at a time when immigration rights activists are pressing him to give temporary amnesty to all of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the nation.
During a speech in San Francisco in which he touted comprehensive immigration reform, Obama was interrupted by a protester who shouted, “Mr. President, please use your executive order to halt deportations for all 11.5 million undocumented immigrants.”
“You have a power to stop deportations… to all undocumented immigrants,” the protester said before chanting, “stop deportations!”
“Actually, I don’t,” Obama said. “And that’s why we’re here.”
Obama also said that if he “could solve all these problems without passing something in Congress, I would do so.” But he said the country was a “nation of laws” even as he pressed for a pathway to citizenship for those who broke the country’s laws and said the “democratic process” needed to be respected.
Last year, Obama, by executive fiat, enacted a temporary deferred action program that allowed “certain illegal immigrants who came to the country before their 16th birthday, are under 30 years of age, and who also meet various requirements to receive temporary work permits.”
As Breitbart News has reported, immigration activists want Obama to extend the deferred action program to all illegal immigrants if a comprehensive immigration reform bill cannot be passed. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) has been an outspoken advocate of such an action. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who was a champion of the Senate’s immigration bill that provided a pathway to citizenship to all of the country’s illegal immigrants, said that immigration reform needed to be passed or Obama would give temporary amnesty to all of the nation’s immigrants, which is something Obama has conceded he cannot do legally.