Whether President Obama will be able to satisfy activists with executive orders designed to address the nation's immigration crisis remains "an open question" that hinges largely on what passes the administration's legal review, the White House said Monday.
"So, I'm going to let the legal experts render a judgment on that and consider what options are available to the president," he added.
Attorney General Eric HolderEric H. HolderOvernight Tech: Senate moving to kill FCC's internet privacy rules | Bill Gates pushes for foreign aid | Verizon, AT&T pull Google ads | Q&A with IBM's VP for cyber threat intel Uber leadership sticking by CEO Top Dems prep for future while out of the spotlight MORE and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who are heading the review for the administration, are expected to present the president with a series of possible steps by the end of the summer. Obama plans to act on those recommendations "shortly after receiving them," Earnest said.
Following a meeting with the president last week, immigration activists said the president was considering extending his administration's deferred action program. That program allows temporary legal status to certain children who were brought to the country illegally. The administration is reviewing whether to extend the program to those children’s parents or illegal immigrants with children born in the U.S. — as many as 5 million people, according to The Washington Post.
But some activist organizations have called on the president to offer deferred action to all 9 million individuals who would be eligible for a pathway to citizenship under the bipartisan Senate immigration bill.
On Monday, Earnest would only say that "the scope of possible or potential executive actions that would be taken to address some of these problems is something that will be determined by the legal review that is still ongoing."
"Because that review is still ongoing, I'm not in a position to speculate about what that review might ultimately conclude," he added.
Republicans have preemptively criticized the move, accusing the president of overstepping his legal authorities. On Sunday, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said such an executive order would put the country in a "constitutional crisis" and suggested the House should consider impeachment proceedings.
"I think Congress needs to sit down and have a serious look at the rest of the Constitution, and that includes the 'I' word that none of us want to say," King said on "Fox News Sunday."