President Barack Obama will delay executive action on immigration reform until after the November elections, media reported Saturday morning. The move reverses what Obama said June 30 when he pledged action on immigration soon after the end of the summer, reports the New York Times.
The shift in policy is due to pressure from Democrats who feared an executive action could hurt their chances in November's elections, reports Reuters. "Because of the Republicans' extreme politicization of this issue, the president believes it would be harmful to the policy itself and to the long-term prospects for comprehensive immigration reform to announce administrative action before the elections," an unnamed White House official told the wire service.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Obama's delay "smacks of raw politics," a Politico writer reported.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who is up for re-election this year, called the move "Washington politics at its worst," CBS reported. He said the president must work with Congress, "not rewrite the laws on his own.”
But he predicted that Obama will take executive action "once it's too late for Americans to hold his party accountable in the November elections."
Obama remains committed to act on immigration reform, White House officials insisted, but any action could serve as a rallying call for conservatives during the election cycle, which could bring out Republican voters and hurt Democrats in tight Senate races. An executive action could also hinder long-term immigration reform, notes NYT.
"I have also directed [Homeland Security] Secretary [Jeh] Johnson and Attorney General [Eric] Holder to identify additional actions my administration can take on our own, within my existing legal authorities, to do what Congress refuses to do and fix as much of our immigration system as we can. If Congress will not do their job, at least we can do ours. I expect their recommendations before the end of summer and I intend to adopt those recommendations without further delay," Obama had said on June 30.
Obama criticized Republicans for obstructing immigration reform, saying, "And in this situation, the failure of House Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad for our security, it’s bad for our economy, and it’s bad for our future."