“If House Republicans are really concerned about me taking too many executive actions, the best solution to that is passing bills,” said President Barack Obama on June 30, 2014. “Pass a bill. Solve a problem. Don’t just say no on something that everybody agrees needs to be done.”
These statements come a week after House Speaker John Boehner told President Obama that the House would not vote this year on immigration reform. The President responded that if Congress refuses to act, he will act by passing Executive Orders to send more resources to the Mexico border to detain and deport undocumented immigrants. He has instructed Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder to present executive actions he can take without congressional approval by the end of the summer.
Immigration reform has been a priority for Obama during his second term. Over the last year, the U.S.-Mexico border has been flooded with immigrants from Central America – many of them unaccompanied minors. Obama said the thousands of unaccompanied children showing up on the border underscore the need to drop the politics and act on immigration. He wants to focus immigration resources on the border to deter illegal entry and to deport recent, unlawful border-crossers who present a national security, public safety, or border security threat.
Deportations have spiked during the Obama administration – reaching nearly two million so far, which is close to the number of deportations completed during the full eight years of the Bush administration. Obama had asked the DHS Immigration & Customs Enforcement division to delay reviewing deportation policies, hoping the House would pass the immigration reform bill proposed and passed by the Senate in 2013. “I take executive action only when we have a serious problem, a serious issue, and Congress chooses to do nothing,” Obama said. “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.”