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Policy: Immigration

Obama donors want him to 'basically nullify Congress'

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Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke,Immigration,Barack Obama,Democratic Party

For the second time in one day, President Obama got heckled by liberal activists who want him to implement more of his agenda by executive order.

Obama was interrupted during his remarks at a high-dollar fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee.

"And somebody keeps on yelling, 'executive order,'" Obama said, referring to a member of the audience. "Well, I’m going to actually pause on this issue because a lot of people have been saying this lately on every problem — which is — 'just sign an executive order, and we can pretty much do anything and basically nullify Congress.'"

The audience of 400, which paid up to $15,000 per person to attend, liked that idea. “Wait, wait, wait, before everybody starts clapping — that's not how it works. We got this Constitution," Obama reminded them. "We got this whole thing about separation of powers and branches. So we got to — there is no shortcut to politics. And there's no shortcut to democracy. And we have to win on the merits of the argument with the American people. As laborious as it seems sometimes, as much misinformation as there is out there sometimes, as frustrating as it may be sometimes, what we have to do is just keep on going, keep on pushing."

The president can hardly blame his supporters for misunderstanding the limits of his executive authority; he's conditioned them to expect him to refuse to enforce provisions of law that he finds inconvenient, especially with regard to immigration.

"I'd like to work my way around Congress," Obama famously said in 2011 before noting that although "we've got laws on the books that have to be upheld ... how we enforce those laws is also important."

Obama has also refused to deport illegal immigrants who would have qualified for amnesty if the Dream Act had passed into law.

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