President Obama reassured illegal immigrants today that the next president and Congress will probably uphold his executive actions when they see how well they work.
Obama met with half a dozen “DREAMers” in the Oval Office today — brought to the country illegally as children and exempt from deportation under his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals order in 2012.
The press pool was ushered into the meeting just for Obama’s remarks. The president said the DREAMers “represent the very best that this country has to offer.”
“And what sets them apart is that they all came here, were brought here by their parents, and up until recently have had a very difficult situation because of their immigration status,” he said. “…In some cases, they didn’t discover until they were about to go to college that there was a difference that might prevent them from giving back to their community and their country.”
“…I don’t think there’s anybody in America who’s had a chance to talk to these six young people who or the young DREAMers all across the country who wouldn’t find it in their heart to say these kids are Americans just like us and they belong here and we want to do right by them.”
Obama slammed Republicans for trying to strip funding for DACA and his most recent immigration executive orders in the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill, which passed the House but is being blocked by Democrats in the Senate.
“So often in this immigration debate it’s an abstraction and we don’t really think about the human consequences of our positions,” he said, adding the House “would have these six young people deported.”
“I think most Americans would think it was wrong if they had a chance to meet these young people,” Obama said. “…I want to be as clear as possible: I will veto any legislation that got to my desk that took away the chance of these young people who grew up here and who are prepared to contribute to this country that would prevent them from doing so. And I am confident that I can uphold that veto.”
He added his “strong preference” is still for comprehensive immigration reform legislation, but there’s been “no logic” to the GOP’s position in the House.
“Particularly for Republicans who claim that they are interested in strong border security, why would you cut off your nose to spite your face by defunding the very operations that are involved in making sure that we’ve got strong border security, particularly at a time when we’ve got real concerns about countering terrorism?” Obama said.
“…And to all the DREAMers who are out there and all those who qualify for my executive action moving forward, I want you to know that I am confident in my ability to implement this program over the next two years, and I’m confident that the next president and the next Congress and the American people will ultimately recognize why this is the right thing to do. So I’m going to want all of you to get information so you can sign up if you qualify as well. All right?”