(CNSNews.com) - Reporters tried again on Wednesday to find out if a DHS purchase order for millions of green cards signals the magnitude of President Obama's intention to unilaterally grant legal status to illegal aliens after the midterm election.
The purchase order requests "an estimated 4 million cards annually" and up to 34 million total.
"What we're talking about here is an order from the Department of Homeland Security to a contractor, related to ongoing operations at the Department of Homeland Security. They're responsible for issuing green cards," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told Fox News's Ed Henry.
"I think those who are trying to read into those specific orders about what the president may decide are -- are a little too cleverly trying to divine what the president's ultimate conclusion might be."
Earnest called Henry's question "a relatively clever way to ask about the policy that the president has not yet announced, as it relates to executive actions that he's prepared to take to address the problems in our broken immigration system."
In a presolicitation notice posted at Federal Business Opportunities on Oct. 6, the Department of Homeland Security announced its intention to purchase card stock used by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to "produce Permanent Resident Cards and Employment Authorization Documentation cards. The requirement is for an estimated 4 million cards annually with the potential to buy as many as 34 million cards total," the notice said."
"I think the report is, they ordered some paper," Earnest said on Wednesday.
Asked if the order was "coincidental," Earnest replied, "I'm saying that there are decisions that are made by lots of agencies, including the ordering of specific colored sheets of paper. Those sorts of decisions are not micro-managed by the White House.
"Don't be absurd with us," a reporter shot back. "That's not just an ordinary colored piece of paper. It is a central...central to what the president has promised in public to do..."
"It's also central to what they're already doing," Earnest said. "You would have to ask the DHS about orders for green- colored paper that they've ordered," he added. "I will tell you that anybody that tries to look at the order -- I mean, this is crazy."
Earnest repeated that DHS is responsible for issuing green cards to "individuals who are seeking to legally enter this country. And what they will do is, they will order -- they will order the card stock...I mean, I -- here's the thing. I am really not trying to be clever. I'm really trying to just be like as really straightforward as I can, which is, the United States -- the -- the White House does not make specific direction to agencies about which (inaudible)."
The reporter noted that no president would want to issue an executive order, then have someone at DHS look up and say, "Oh Christ, we don't have any paper for this."
Earnest said, "The fact of the matter is, there are still decisions to be made about what the policy will entail. And when we're ready to announce that policy, we will announce it. What I would caution you against doing is making assumptions about what will be in those announcements based on the procurement practices of the Department of Homeland Security. OK?"
Four months ago, President Obama announced that he would take "aggressive steps" to "fix as much of our immigration system as I can, on my own, without Congress."
He directed his Homeland Security and Justice Departments to "identify additional actions my administration can take on our own, within my existing legal authorities, to do what Congress refuses to do and fix as much of our immigration system as we can. If Congress will not do their job, at least we can do ours. I expect their recommendations before the end of summer and I intend to adopt those recommendations without further delay."
But as summer neared an end, the White House announced that President Obama would delay his executive order until after the mid-term election.
Earlier this month, President Obama insisted that he "meant what I said" when he promised to "act to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own...So this is not a question of if, but when."