Updated 3:43 p.m. | President Barack Obama will not wait any longer for House Republicans to pass an immigration bill, after Speaker John A. Boehner told him he will not allow a vote this year, the president said Monday.
“Last week he informed me that Republicans will continue to block immigration reform at least for the remainder of this year,” Obama said Monday in a Rose Garden statement where he announced he would go it alone on immigration, “without Congress,” as far as he can.
Obama said he believes Boehner when he says he wants to pass an immigration bill, but he hasn’t been able to pass anything despite a year and a half of trying.
“America cannot wait forever for them to act,” Obama said.
“In our conversation last week, I told the president what I have been telling him for months: the American people and their elected officials don’t trust him to enforce the law as written,” Boehner said. “Until that changes, it is going to be difficult to make progress on this issue. The crisis at our southern border reminds us all of the critical importance of fixing our broken immigration system. It is sad and disappointing that faced with this challenge President Obama won’t work with us, but is instead intent on going it alone with executive orders that can’t and won’t fix these problems.”
Boehner blamed the president’s executive orders for leading to the latest crisis on the border, “giving false hope to children and their families that if they enter the country illegally they will be allowed to stay. The White House claims it will move to return these children to their families in their home countries, yet additional executive action from this president isn’t going to stem the tide of illegal crossings, it’s only going to make them worse.”
But in his remarks, Obama said Republican leaders have “proven again and again” that they are unwilling to stand up to the tea party and back an immigration bill.
“I’m going to continue to reach out to House Republicans in the hope that they deliver a more permanent solution. …Whenever it is they will find me a willing partner,” Obama said. “The only thing I can’t do is stand by and do nothing while waiting for them to get their act together.”
Obama said that the best solution for Republicans worried that he’s taking too many executive actions is to pass a bill. Immigration advocates have long pressed Obama to reduce enforcement actions in the interior of the country and to sharply reduce deportations on his own — and he now seems set on doing so.
“Protecting public safety is and will remain a top priority, and we will continue to focus on removing those who have committed serious crimes from our interior, but we will redirect other resources to make sure we keep doing what it takes to keep our border secure,” a White House official said.
The president also is asking his team to provide him with a list of executive actions he can take by the end of the summer.
In the meantime, he will continue to make the case for a comprehensive immigration bill.
Obama said Republicans’ decision not to pass an immigration overhaul has prevented an improvement in border security. An aide noted Obama asked Congress on Monday to provide more money and more authority to deal with the surge of unaccompanied children across the border. “The failure of Congressional Republicans to act has stopped commonsense reform — which would provide more resources to strengthen border security, help the economy, make all businesses play by the rules, modernize our legal immigration system, and bring 11 million people out of the shadows,” the official said.
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