(CNSNews.com) - President Barack Obama said in a press conference in Wales on Friday afternoon that although his "preference is to see Congress act," he intends to take unilateral action to give illegal aliens “some path” to “be legal” if Congress does not enact the sort immigration legislation he wants.
The Associated Press reported on Saturday that unnamed White House officials had told the news organization that Obama would wait until after the midterm elections to make his move on immigration.
The Constitution of the United States gives Congress—not the Executive--authority over immigration. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution says: “Congress shall have power…to establish a uniform rule of naturalization.”
The president announced his intention to unilaterally grant immigration lawbreakers living illegally in the United States “some path…to be legal” in a wordy, multipronged answer to a reporter’s question.
Here is the verbatim transcript of the reporter’s question and the president’s answer, as posted by the White House:
Colleen Nelson, Wall Street Journal: “Thank you, Mr. President. Some say that Democrats who are facing tough races in November have asked you to delay action on immigration. How have the concerns of other Democrats influenced your thinking? And do you see any downside at this point to delaying until after the election?”
President Obama: “I have to tell you that this week I’ve been pretty busy, focused on Ukraine and focused on ISIL and focused on making sure that NATO is boosting its commitments, and following through on what’s necessary to meet 21st century challenges.
“Jeh Johnson and Eric Holder have begun to provide me some of their proposals and recommendations. I’ll be reviewing them. And my expectation is that fairly soon I’ll be considering what the next steps are.
“What I’m unequivocal about is that we need immigration reform; that my overriding preference is to see Congress act. We had bipartisan action in the Senate. The House Republicans have sat on it for over a year. That has damaged the economy, it has held America back. It is a mistake. And in the absence of congressional action, I intend to take action to make sure that we’re putting more resources on the border, that we’re upgrading how we process these cases, and that we find a way to encourage legal immigration and give people some path so that they can start paying taxes and pay a fine and learn English and be able to not look over their shoulder but be legal, since they’ve been living here for quite some time.
“So I suspect that on my flight back this will be part of my reading, taking a look at some of the specifics that we’ve looked at. And I’ll be making an announcement soon.
“But I want to be very clear: My intention is, in the absence of action by Congress, I’m going to do what I can do within the legal constraints of my office--because it’s the right thing to do for the country. Thank you very much, people of Wales. I had a wonderful time.”
On Saturday morning, the Associated Press published a story reporting that White House official were saying that Obama would delay unilateral action on immigration until after the midterm elections.
“Two White House officials said Obama concluded that circumventing Congress through executive actions on immigration during the campaign would politicize the issue and hurt future efforts to pass a broad overhaul,” the AP reported.
“The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the president's decision before it was announced, said Obama made his decision Friday as he returned to Washington from a NATO summit in Wales,” said the AP.
“The officials said Obama had no specific timeline to act, but that he still would take his executive steps before the end of the year,” the AP said.
“White House officials said aides realized that if Obama's immigration action was deemed responsible for Democratic losses this year, it could hurt any attempt to pass a broad overhaul later on,” said the AP.
The Pew Research Center has estimated that there were 11.3 million illegal aliens in the United States as of March 2013.