President Obama on Thursday night gave himself a concrete timetable to take executive action on immigration reform, vowing to act between the November midterm elections and the end of the year.
Mr. Obama’s promise was met with cheers and applause at a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute dinner in Washington. Hispanic leaders have been eagerly waiting on the White House to take executive steps to stop deportations for more illegal immigrants, as it now is certain the House will not act on a comprehensive immigration reform bill before the end of the year.
“This is not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when.’ Because the moment I act — and it will be taking place between the November elections and the end of the year — opponents of reform will roll out the same old scare tactics,” the president said.
The administration previously had indicated the president would act over the summer, and the delay was met with anger and frustration from Hispanic lawmakers on Capitol Hill and across the country.
But even though he’s promised to act during the lame-duck session of Congress, Mr. Obama stressed that the fight for immigration will not end. He said more “sustainable” action will be needed to ensure any changes made to the nation’s immigration system can stand the test of time.
“We have to be realistic. For any action to last, for it to be effective and extend beyond my administration — because I’m only here two more years — we’re going to have to build more support of the American people so it is sustainable and lasting,” he said. “So I am going to be spending the next month, six weeks, eight weeks, not just talking about what we’ve done for the economy, but explaining why immigration reform is good for our economy and why it’s good for everybody.”