FEATURED:

Obama: Immigration action ‘soon’

Obama: Immigration action ‘soon’
© Getty Images

President Obama vowed Friday to announce executive actions to address immigration "soon,” though he did not specifically commit to moving before the November elections.

ADVERTISEMENT
The president said he has received some of the proposals and recommendations for executive actions developed by Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderPavlich: The claim Trump let the mentally ill get guns is a lie Pennsylvania Supreme Court releases new congressional map 36 people who could challenge Trump in 2020 MORE and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

"I suspect that on my flight back this will be part of my reading, taking a look at some of the specifics we've looked at, and I will be making an announcement soon," Obama told reporters at a press conference following the NATO summit in Wales.

Obama said his actions would include efforts to move resources to better address the surge of child migrants who have flooded across the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as finding “a way to encourage legal immigration.”

High-tech companies and immigration groups have been lobbying the administration to expand the number of green cards available to specialized workers and the relatives of permanent residents.

The president said he also hoped his administration could find a way "to encourage legal immigration and give people some path so that they can start paying taxes and pay a fine and learn English, and be able to not look over their shoulder, but be legal since they’ve been living here for quite some time."

Advocates have suggested that the president could expand his deferred action program — which allows certain children brought to the country illegally to work legally and avoid deportation proceedings — to cover a broader group of individuals.

"My intention is, in the absence of action by Congress, I’m going to do what I can do within the legal constraints of my office, because it’s the right thing to do for the country," Obama said.

But while Obama said he'd be considering those steps "fairly soon," he did not say whether the announcement would come ahead of the midterm elections.

Vulnerable Senate Democrats have begged the president to hold off on any move until after November, fearing that any steps Obama takes could motivate the Republican base and alienate independent voters.

Earlier this week, press secretary Josh Earnest conceded that Obama could wait until after the midterms to act.

"It's hard for me to at least at this point draw any clear conclusions about what the president's timing will be," Earnest said. "There is the chance that it could be before the end of the summer. There is the chance that it could be after the summer."

Earnest said at the time that Obama was not "focused" on the politics of the issue, while conceding there was "no doubt that the White House has demonstrated our desire" to help Democrats up for reelection. 

Obama is also facing pressure from some Democrats to set aside the midterm considerations and press forward.

"I say to the Democrats: Stand aside," Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) said during a press call Wednesday with immigration advocates. "Let the president make a decision; let him announce it; and stop this stopping the progress of our community towards justice."

"The president said that he was ready to take bold action, and a few Democrats should not stand in the way," added Clarissa Martínez-De-Castro, deputy vice president of policy at the National Council of La Raza. 

— This story was updated at 1:40 p.m.