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Analysts said it’s more likely that the president is looking at the election map for November and calculating whether unilateral action would hurt Democrats’ chances to hold on to Senate seats in Republican-leaning states.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest disputed that notion Monday and insisted that Mr. Obama is focused on the best policy. He struggled to answer questions about the timeline.

“It’s hard for me to, at least at this point, draw any clear conclusions about what the president’s timing will be,” Mr. Earnest said. “There is the chance that it could be before the end of the summer. There is the chance that it could be after the summer.”

Mr. Earnest said the issue would be moot had House Republicans taken action on immigration reform instead of leaving Mr. Obama to enforce a system that all sides agree is broken.

He said Mr. Obama wants to have “a fact-based debate so the American people actually understand what the consequences are for acting within the confines of the law to repair our broken immigration system.”