White House press secretary Josh Earnest said things have changed since President Barack Obama asserted last year that taking certain executive action on illegal immigration was "not an option."
Earnest said Tuesday that Obama ordered a review since giving a 2013 interview with Telemundo in which he said he wouldn't extend deferred action to parents of children previously given deferred status because it would be "ignoring the law."
“Since this interview aired, the president did direct the attorney general and secretary of homeland security to conduct a review of the law to determine what if any authority he could use to try to fix some of the problems that House Republicans have refused to address,” Earnest said. “So this is something that has been under consideration for some time."
Obama announced in June that he asked Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to conduct a review of the executive options the president had at his disposal.
Reports last week said Obama could soon announce a plan to grant legal status to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants by halting deportations of illegal parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents.
In the 2013 interview, Obama said expanding deportation exemptions would be "ignoring the law in a way that would make it very difficult to defend legally. So that is not an option."
Earnest said House Republicans have made it clear they will not take action on immigration.
“What the president has done ... is to ask for a detailed, in-depth professional review of what kind of authority can be wielded by the president of the United States — any president — to address some of these problems that Congress is unwilling to confront,” Earnest said.