Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Wednesday that illegal immigrants should not be forced by the government to comply with U.S. immigration laws, and that law enforcement officials should instead focus on "real criminals."
"I hope he does it as soon as possible," Reid said on the Senate floor on President Barack Obama's pending executive action on immigration. "His executive action will help keep families together and focus law enforcement resources on real criminals."
Reid spoke alongside other Senate Democrats who sought to defend Obama announcement, which will be made Thursday night from the White House. Obama will also outline his plan further in a speech Friday in Las Vegas.
Obama is expected to announce some form of legal status for up to five million illegal immigrants, and may also expand the effective number of green cards for relatives and U.S. citizens and others.
Republicans have said the move will only encourage more illegal immigrants, and will amount to an illegal reinterpretation of immigration laws without the consent of Congress.
Still, Reid said he's glad that Obama is finally moving on his own, and said Obama should be allowed to act alone because he warned Congress earlier this year that he might do so.
"I'm glad," Reid said. "I'm glad he's going to in the next couple of days for sure, to use his constitutionally established authority to fix as much of our broken immigration system as is possible."
"He told everybody he was going to do it in the State of the Union, and he's waited and waited, and nothing's happened," he added.