Obama Gives Only Vague Hints about Executive Action on Immigration

Amid various rumors and reports, President Barack Obama Thursday was not specific about what type of action he might take on immigration without congressional authorization.

President Barack Obama speaks the economy, Iraq, and Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, before convening a meeting with his national security team on the militant threat in Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“It continues to be my belief that, if I can’t see the congressional action, that I need to do at least what I can in order to make the system work better,” Obama said during a press conference Thursday. “But you know, some of these things do affect time lines and we’re just going to be working through as systematically as possible in order to get this done. But have no doubt: in the absence of congressional action, I’m going to do what I can to make sure the system works better.”

Obama has criticized the House for failing to pass a Senate comprehensive immigration reform package that would have bestowed legal status on some 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, while also providing more border protection.

Obama is expected to take some executive action to halt at least some deportations, as Congress is out for recess and the chance of the House passing a bill before the midterm election are extremely slim. There was a demonstration among immigration rights activists in Washington earlier Thursday demanding executive action to halt deportions.

Obama said the status is still with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who along with Attorney General Eric Holder are reviewing what can legally be done without congressional authorization to change the immigration system.

“My preference continues to be that Congress act,” Obama said. “I don’t think anybody thinks that Congress is going to act in the short term, but hope springs eternal that after the midterm elections they may act.”

Obama talked briefly about the unaccompanied minors crisis at the border, saying the situation has improved.

“The number of apprehensions in August are down from July, and they’re actually lower than they were August of last year,” Obama said. “Apprehensions in July were half of what they were in June. So, we’re seeing a significant downward trend in terms of these unaccompanied children, and what that, I think, allows us to do is to make sure that those kids are being taken care of properly with due process.”