President Barack Obama reiterated that action on immigration reform is “way overdue,” reacting to recent reports that he is planning to announce executive measures to grant legal status to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants.
“They have the ability to fix the system,” Obama said Friday during a joint appearance with Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar. “What they don’t have the ability to do is expect me to stand by with a broken system in perpetuity."
"Rather than devote a lot of time trying to constrain my lawful actions as the chief executive of the U.S. government in charge of our enforcing our immigration laws, that they spend some time passing a bill and engaging with all the stakeholders, the immigrant rights groups, the law enforcement groups, the evangelicals, the business community, all of whom have said this is something that needs to be done, is way overdue and we’ve been talking about it for 10 years now," Obama added.
Fox News and the New York Times reported that Obama is prepared to announce as early as next week plans to expand deferred action to the illegal immigrant parents of young children who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. The action would also call for using prosecutorial discretion to only targeting those who committed a serious crime for deportation.
Congressional Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have vowed that any executive action taken on immigration would constitute a serious breach in their working relationship with Obama as the GOP moves to take control of the Senate in January.
Obama said Congress had a chance to act.
"It passed out of the Senate. I gave the House over a year to go ahead and at least give a vote to the Senate bilaterally; they failed to do so, and I indicated to Speaker Boehner several months ago that if, in fact, Congress failed to act, I would use all the lawful authority that I possess to try to make the system work better and that’s going to happen. That’s going to happen before the end of the year."
Obama did not definitively pledge to veto the Keystone XL pipeline, which could gain approval in the lame duck session of Congress. Obama said the process should play out in the courts and the ongoing State Department review, according to the White House press pool report.