President Obama released a statement on Wednesday urging the House to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Given that the House is nowhere near even considering such action, Obama's message seemed a bit out of the blue. But it makes plenty of sense considered in light of reports the president is planning a series of unilateral executive actions on immigration.
"Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson earlier this month told House Democrats he'll take action in the next few weeks on 'fixes' to immigration law, most likely dealing with deportation," the Washington Examiner's Susan Ferrechio reported Wednesday. Among the "fixes" Johnson is considering, Ferrechio continued, is a proposal from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to "defer deportations of people who arrived here illegally as children, so that parents, family members and some workers are also excluded from having to leave the country if they are here illegally."
In light of that, Obama's statement appears less an effort to prod the House to vote than the laying of a foundation for executive action. If the House does not move soon — and it won't — the president will say that he gave lawmakers every chance to "fix" the allegedly "broken" immigration system before taking action himself. And given Ferrechio's report that action could come "in the next few weeks," expect the president to move sooner rather than later.
Here is Obama's statement, in full:
One year ago, the Senate introduced comprehensive bipartisan legislation to fix our broken immigration system. Both sides worked together to pass that bill with a strong bipartisan vote. The Senate’s commonsense agreement would grow the economy by $1.4 trillion and shrink the deficit by nearly $850 billion over the next two decades, while providing a tough but fair pathway to earned citizenship to bring 11 million undocumented individuals out of the shadows, modernizing our legal immigration system, continuing to strengthen border security, and holding employers accountable. Simply put, it would boost our economy, strengthen our security, and live up to our most closely-held values as a society.
Unfortunately, Republicans in the House of Representatives have repeatedly failed to take action, seemingly preferring the status quo of a broken immigration system over meaningful reform. Instead of advancing commonsense reform and working to fix our immigration system, House Republicans have voted in favor of extreme measures like a punitive amendment to strip protections from "Dreamers." The majority of Americans are ahead of House Republicans on this crucial issue and there is broad support for reform, including among Democrats and Republicans, labor and business, and faith and law enforcement leaders. We have a chance to strengthen our country while upholding our traditions as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants, and I urge House Republicans to listen to the will of the American people and bring immigration reform to the House floor for a vote.