President Obama’s said his administration will be “prepared to implement” his immigration executive actions “fully as soon as the legal issues get resolved.”
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Federal District Court in Brownsville blocked the administration’s execution of the orders as lawsuits are pending from 26 states.
Stressing that he disagreed with the ruling, Obama told reporters in the Oval Office yesterday “this is not the first time where a lower court judge blocked something or attempted to block something that ultimately was shown to be lawful.”
“And I’m confident that it is well within my authority and position of the executive branch’s prosecutorial discretion to execute this law. This will help us make our borders safer; will help us go after criminals and those that we don’t want in this country; will help people get on the right side of the law and get out of the shadows,” he said.
“And keep in mind that this is something that we necessarily have to make choices about because we’ve got 11 million people here who we’re not all going to deport. Many of them are our neighbors. Many of them are working in our communities. Many of their children are U.S. citizens. And as we saw with the executive action that I took for DREAMers, people who have come here as young children and are American by any other name except for their legal papers, who want to serve this country, oftentimes want to go into the military or start businesses or in other ways contribute — I think the American people overwhelmingly recognize that to pretend like we are going to ship them off is unrealistic and not who we are.”
The application period for Obama’s expansion of the deferred action program was set to begin today. Obama said the Department of Homeland Security would figure out how to proceed from here.
DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said they “fully expect to ultimately prevail in the courts, and we will be prepared to implement DAPA and expanded DACA once we do.”
“It is important to emphasize what the District Court’s order does not affect,” Johnson added. “The Court’s order does not affect the existing DACA. Individuals may continue to come forward and request initial grant of DACA or renewal of DACA pursuant to the guidelines established in 2012. Nor does the Court’s order affect this Department’s ability to set and implement enforcement priorities.”
Obama said the administration is “not going to disregard this federal court ruling.”
“The law is the law in this country, and we take things a step at a time. So we’re not going to be actually taking applications in until this case is settled. But we are doing the preparatory work because this is a big piece of business and it’s important for us to do in order for us to actually secure our borders effectively and allocate limited resources to the most important tasks and functions that the Department of Homeland Security has,” the president said.
“We should not be tearing some mom away from her child when the child has been born here and that mom has been living here for the last 10 years, minding her own business and being a important part of the community. We should be focusing on stopping people at the borders, reinforcing our effectiveness there, going after criminals and felons who are in our midst who we can deport, strengthening our systems for legal immigration. Those are all the things that we could be doing through a comprehensive immigration reform bill, and in fact, we know that there has been in the past bipartisan support for that.”
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) noted that on 22 separate occasions, “President Obama himself admitted the Constitution did not grant him authority to take executive action on immigration.”
“The president, preferring to steamroll Congress and the American people rather than engage in dialog with them, has now changed his tune and sought to vest himself with the unchecked authority to rewrite our immigration system in a last ditch effort to craft his preferred ideological legacy,” Issa said. “But the fact remains that the president’s proposal, aside from being blatantly unconstitutional, is both bad for America and bad for the very people it purports to help, ultimately leaving them in legal limbo, rather than finally taking decisive action.”