Obama: 'I’ve actually been very restrained'

President Obama said in an interview broadcast Sunday that he “bent over backwards” to give Congress leeway to pass immigration reform. 

On ABC’s “This Week,” Obama said he has issued fewer executive actions than most former presidents “by a long shot.” 

“If you ask historians, take a look at the track records of the modern presidency, I’ve actually been very restrained. And I’ve been very restrained with respect to immigration. I bent over backwards and will continue to do everything I can to get Congress to work,” Obama said.

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Former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush all issued executive orders on immigration while they were in the White House. 

The interview with Obama was recorded just after the president announced new executive orders that expand the administration’s program to defer deportations for people living in the United States illegally and to focus on targeting criminals for deportations. 

Obama blamed Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerCameras go dark during House Democrats' sit-in Rubio flies with Obama on Air Force One to Orlando Juan Williams: The capitulation of Paul Ryan MORE (R-Ohio) for not bringing an immigration reform bill the Senate passed in 2013 to the House floor.

“He still has several weeks to call that bill in the House or he can work with me and Democrats to craft a new bill,” Obama said.

The executive branch can’t “solve the entire problem,” Obama added, and emphasized the need for Congress to participate in the process.

Plenty of GOP lawmakers have blasted Obama for issuing the new order, but the president described their comments as “a lot of rhetoric.”

House Republicans, Obama said, have made everything become “hostage to one disagreement,” such as the showdown over defunding ObamaCare, which led to the 2013 government shutdown. 

Top Republicans have repeatedly promised in recent weeks that they won’t shut down the government over the immigration action despite some pressure from conservatives. 

“If they’re not gonna do that then we shouldn’t have a problem,” Obama said. “Because we should be able then to work on a whole host of other issues ... that’s how our democracy has always worked.”

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