President Barack Obama hinted Thursday that he would delay his unpopular executive amnesty until after the critical November election.
“Our immigration system is broken and need to be fixed, and my preference continues to be that Congress act,” he said, echoing a familiar claim by advocates of greater immigration.
But he next suggested that Congress might act after the November mid-term elections. “Hope springs eternal that after the midterm elections, they may act,” he said.
And then he suggested he would wait until after the elections before deciding the scope of his planned unilateral amnesty.
“In the meantime [before the election], what I’ve asked [homeland security secretary] Jeh Johnson to do, is to look at what kind of executive authorities we have in order to make the system work better,” he stated.
Obama’s use of the phrase “in the meantime,” suggests that he won’t announce his amnesty until after the election.
Previously, officials have repeatedly said that Obama will act by the end of summer.
After his “meantime” comment, Obama briefly discussed his amnesty plans, which reportedly include granting work-permits to 5 million illegal immigrants, and also allowing companies to import guest-workers for jobs sought by Americans.
Numerous polls show those proposals are politically radioactive among swing-voters, Republicans, blue-collar voters and among many Hispanics, partly because many Americans are worried amnesty would harm their job opportunities and wages. GOP politicians such as Rep. Tom Cotton and Scott Brown are using the issue to boost their poll ratings.
Unsurprisingly, he provided few details or commitments that could be cited by Republicans during the election.
“We’ve had a lot of stakeholder discussions [and] that set of proposals is being worked up,” he said.
The comment came at the end of a brief press conference that was more focused on foreign policy crises. White House officials shaped the press conference by announcing that Obama was meeting with his security council, nudging reporters to ask security-related questions.
Obama’s suggestion that he would delay the amnesty will likely be a disappointment to progressive and Latino advocates, who want Obama to provide an amnesty to the entire population of illegal immigrants — now estimated to be at least 12 million.
But it will likely come as a relieve to Democratic candidates, such as Arkansas’ Sen. Mark Pryor and New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. In recent days, they’ve called for the president to set aside his plans for a unilateral amnesty.
That’s a shift from 2012, when both Senators endorsed Obama’s 2012 executive amnesty for at least 550,000 younger illegals.
After suggesting he would delay his announcement, Obama next shifted his comments to the different crisis caused by the movement of nearly 250,000 Central American illegal immigrants into the United States. Obama’s border agencies have not tried to block the migrants, but have instead invited them to file claims for amnesty in U.S. immigration courts.
Pending the conclusion of their lawsuits, the 25o,000-plus migrants are allowed to work in jobs sought by Americans, take places in schools alongside American kids, and use health-care services funded by taxpayers.
As usual, Obama described the Central American flood as “the issue of unaccompanied children.”
In fact, federal officials have admitted that the “unaccompanied children” are accompanied by “coyotes,” and roughly 80 percent of the children are older than 14. Many are being delivered by the coyotes to parents or relatives now living illegally in the United States.
“I do think that [border meltdown] changed the perception of the American people about what’s happening at the borders,” Obama stated.
Since then, he said, they had to work on “that specific problem,” instead of the amnesty sought by progressive and Latino advocacy groups.
“So we’re starting to deal with [border crisis] in a serious way,” he said, while citing a drop in the number of “children” crossing the border.
“That has kept us busy, but it has not stopped the process of looking more broadly about how do we get a smart immigration system in place, while we’re waiting for Congress to act.”
“If I can’t see congressional action, I need to do at least what I can to make the system work better, but you know, some of these things do effect timelines, and we’re just going to be working through as systematically as possible in order to get this done,” he said.
He ended the press conference by reassuring his progressive and Latino allies that he would eventually take action.
“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.”