Obama Defends His Executive Action on Immigration
Policy + Politics

Obama Defends His Executive Action on Immigration


President Obama defended his use of executive actions on Sunday after House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans spent the last several days challenging the president’s authority to use his executive action on immigration reform. 

During an interview on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, President Obama said he had “bent over backwards” to allow Congress to pass immigration reform legislation…but ultimately, decided to take action on his own. 

Related: Obama on Immigration: How He Could Foul It Up 

Obama’s comments come on the heels of his announcement Thursday revealing his executive action to spare some 5 million illegal immigrants currently living in the United States from deportation. 

Republicans have attacked the president for what they say is an overreach of his executive authority. Speaker Boehner, who has criticized the president for acting like an emperor filed a lawsuit against Obama for taking executive action to delay Obamacare’s employer mandate by one year. Now they say his actions on immigration have also undermined Congressional authority and the Constitution. 

Former Senator Rick Santorum said, “The president slapped in the face every House and Senate member and said, ‘We don’t need you anymore,’” Santorum said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”  

Obama said, “If you ask historians, take a look at the track records of the modern presidency, I’ve actually been very restrained,” Obama said. “And I’ve been very restrained with respect to immigration. I bent over backwards and will continue to do everything I can to get Congress to work.” 

Related: A GOP Congress Will Face 12 Million Pleas for Immigration Reform 

Democrat lawmakers have defended the president’s actions—saying they were not outside of his executive authority. 

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Obama had "no choice" but to act on immigration since House Republicans wouldn't take up the Senate passed immigration bill. 

"I've listened to the Republican response to the president's executive action. It is clear that they can complain, they can threaten, they can talk about lawsuits, cutting off funding, shutting down the government, in the extreme, even impeachment. But the real question is: Can they govern? Can they govern?” Durbin asked on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Obama again urged Boehner to call a vote on the Senate passed immigration bill—though it’s highly unlikely that will happen anytime soon.

“He still has several weeks to call that bill in the House or he can work with me and Democrats to craft a new bill,” Obama said.

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