White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Wednesday refused to admit that the government is stocking up on supplies needed to boost the production of green cards, in anticipation of President Barack Obama's executive action to give legal status to millions of illegal immigrants.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has recently ramped up its order of card stock needed to make green cards. Earlier this month, it ordered enough stock to make 34 million green cards over the next five years, more than double the number it would normally produce over that period.
Conservatives say the order for more paper is a clear sign the administration plans to hand out more green cards to illegal immigrants as part of Obama's immigration plan. But when pressed on whether this is the case, Earnest declined to answer, and tried to pass off the ordering of more supplies as a random order for "green-colored paper."
"There are decisions that are made by lots of agencies, including new ordering of specific colored sheets of paper," he said. "You would have to ask the DHS about orders for green-colored paper that they've ordered."
As CBS reporter Major Garrett pressed him to confirm the connection, Earnest laughed off the question several times, and at one point said, "I mean, this is crazy." Earnest dodged the question again by saying the White House doesn't micro-manage each agency to the point of ordering supplies.
"I am really not trying to be clever," he said. "I'm really trying to just be like as really straight-forward as I can, which is: the White House does not make specific direction to agencies about which supplies they should order."
After Garrett pointed out that it's not crazy to assume plans for more green cards are related to Obama's pending immigration announcement, Earnest insisted that no decisions have been made yet.
"There are still decisions to be made about what that policy will entail, and when we're ready to announce that policy, we will announce it," he said. "What I would caution you against doing is making assumptions about what will be in those announcements based on the procurement practices of the Department of Homeland Security."
Obama was originally set to announce a major change to immigration policy at the end of the summer. But Earnest later admitted that such an announcement could have given Republicans ammunition against Democrats in the mid-term elections, and the White House said its plans would be delayed until after November 4.