Politics

Obama plans to announce immigration steps

The president on Wednesday called the immigration system
The president on Wednesday called the immigration system "broken" and pledged to work with Congress on comprehensive reform but hinted that he would sidestep legislators. The president said he would on Thursday lay out steps he can lawfully take to improve the system until Congress presents a bill.
White House

President Barack Obama on Thursday plans to announce steps he says he can take to make the nation's immigration system work better.

Addressing the public in a video posted to the White House Facebook page Wednesday, the president called the immigration system "broken" and pledged to work with Congress on comprehensive reform but hinted that he would sidestep legislators until they can produce a bill.

"Everybody agrees that our immigration system is broken. Unfortunately Washington has allowed the problem to fester for too long," Obama said in the video. "And so what I'm going to be laying out is the things that I can do with my lawful authority as president to make the system work better even as I continue to work with Congress and encourage them to get a bipartisan, comprehensive bill that can solve the entire problem."

 

 

 

The president said he would follow that speech, planned for 5 p.m. PT at the White House, with another on Friday at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, where almost two years ago he laid out his principles for immigration reform in another major speech. You can watch the earlier speech below:

Video

As the Associated Press reports, a wide-ranging immigration bill passed the Senate last year but stalled in the Republican-led House, prompting Obama to vow instead to pursue changes using executive authority.

The president previously took executive action in 2012 to defer deportations for certain immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children. Here's more from AP:

Those immigrants covered by the 2012 action, called Dreamers by their advocates, can obtain work permits but are not eligible for food stamps, federal welfare benefits or disability benefits under the Supplemental Security Income program. They also are ineligible for tax credits under Obama's health care law, though they can buy health coverage at full price on the exchanges created by the law. They may be eligible for public benefits provided by some states, however.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Wednesday that Obama's executive actions will be comprehensive and include border security measures. He said he believes that immigration changes that Obama will announce are not only legal but needed in light of inaction by Congress on immigration.

Johnson spoke briefly about the president's plan during an event at the National Press Club on Wednesday, but he didn't provide any details.

House Speaker John Boehner's spokesman criticized Obama's plans, noting that the president himself has said in the past that he is not "emperor" and is limited in his ability to act on his own.

"If 'Emperor Obama' ignores the American people and announces an amnesty plan that he himself has said over and over again exceeds his Constitutional authority, he will cement his legacy of lawlessness and ruin the chances for congressional action on this issue - and many others," the spokesman, Michael Steel, said.