President Obama said Wednesday that Democrats have enough votes in Congress to sustain his planned veto of Republican efforts to block his deportation amnesty program, and he accused the GOP of ignoring terrorism in a fight over homeland security funding.
Meeting with young illegal immigrants known as Dreamers in the Oval Office, Mr. Obama told reporters, “I want to be as clear as possible — I will veto any legislation that got to my desk that took away the chance of these young people who grew up here, and who are prepared to contribute to this country, that would prevent them from doing so.
“I’m confident I can uphold that veto,” the president said.
Mr. Obama hosted a half-dozen Dreamers — illegal immigrants here under his temporary deportation amnesty — as he tries to fight back against Republicans’ efforts to cancel his immigration policies. Senate Democrats filibustered the Homeland Security spending bill Tuesday, leaving the department in danger of a partial shutdown this month as Congress fights over Mr. Obama’s deportation amnesty.
The president accused the GOP of putting border security at risk with their strategy.
“There’s no logic to that position, particularly for Republicans who claim they are interested in strong border security,” Mr. Obama said. “Why would you cut off your nose to spite your face by defunding the very operations that are involved in making sure that we’ve got strong border security? Particularly at a time when we’ve got real concerns about countering terrorism. My strong suggestion would be that Congress go ahead and fund the Department of Homeland Security.”
Republican leaders have said they will not let the department run out of money and are trying to devise options for funding before a Feb. 27 deadline.
Mr. Obama also tried to reassure Dreamers and those who haven’t applied yet for his deportation amnesty that his executive action won’t be voided by Congress or a future president.
“To all of the Dreamers who are out there and all of those who qualified for my executive action going forward, I want you to know that I am confident in my ability to implement this program over the next two years,” Mr. Obama said. “And I’m confident that the next president and the next Congress and the American people will ultimately recognize why this is the right thing to do. So I’m going to want all of you to get information so you can sign up if you qualify.”
The president urged lawmakers to consider the contributions that illegal immigrants are making to society.
“So often in this immigration debate, it’s an abstraction, and we don’t really think about the human consequences of our position,” Mr. Obama said. “The House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would have these six young people deported. I think that’s wrong. Most Americans would think it’s wrong if they had a chance to meet these young people.”