President Obama unleashed today on the courts system and Congress after a reporter at the G-7 summit in Germany asked if he was looking at his term ending before accomplishing his goals on immigration.
“Obviously, I’m frustrated by a district court ruling that now is winding its way through the appeals process,” he replied. “We are being as aggressive as we can legally to first and foremost appeal that ruling and then to implement those elements of immigration executive actions that were not challenged in court.”
“But obviously, the centerpiece, one of the key provisions for me was being able to get folks who are undocumented to go through a background check, a criminal background check, pay back taxes and then have a legal status, and that requires an entire administrative apparatus and us getting them to apply and come clean.”
Obama noted that he “made a decision, which I think is the right one, that we should not accept applications until the legal status of this is clarified. I am absolutely convinced this is well within my legal authority, the Department of Homeland Security’s legal authority.”
“If you look at the precedent, if you look at the traditional discretion that the executive branch possesses when it comes to applying immigration laws, I am convinced that what we’re doing is lawful and our lawyers are convinced that what we’re doing is lawful and our lawyers are convinced that what we’re doing is lawful,” he continued.
“But the United States is a government of laws and separations of power. And when a — even if it’s an individual district court judge who is making this determination, we’ve got to go through the process to challenge it. And until we get clarity there, I don’t want to bring people in, have them apply and jump through a lot of hoops only to have it deferred and delayed further.”
Obama added that “of course there’s one really great way to solve this problem, and that would be Congress going ahead and acting, which would obviate the need for executive actions.”
“The majority of the American people I think still want to see that happen. I suspect it will be a major topic of the next presidential campaign,” he said.
“And so we will continue to push as hard as we can on all fronts to fix the broken immigration system administratively. We’ll be prepared if and when we get the kind of ruling that I think we should have gotten in the first place about our authorities to go ahead and implement. But ultimately, this has never fully replaced the need for Congress to act. And my hope is that after a number of the other issues that we’re working on currently get cleared, that some quiet conversations start up — back up again particularly in the Republican Party about the short-sighted approach that they’re taking when it comes to immigration.”