Obama on Immigration: ‘When I Take Exec Action, I Want To Make Sure It’s Sustainable’

‘What I’ve determined is I want to make sure we get it right’

Obama on Immigration: "When I Take Executive Action, I Want To Make Sure It's Sustainable" (RealClearPolitics)

CHUCK TODD:Let me go to immigration. You made a decision to delay any executive action until after the election. What do you tell the person that's going to get deported before the election that this decision was essentially made in your hopes of saving a Democratic Senate?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, that's not the reason. A couple of things that I want to say about immigration. Number one, I have been consistent about why this is important. The country's going to be better off if we have an immigration system that works, that has strong border security, that has streamlined our legal immigration system, so the best and the brightest who want to stay here and invest here and create jobs here can do so, that families can be unified, and that a system where the millions of people who are here, in many cases, for a decade or more, who have American kids, who are neighbors, often times are our friends, that they have a path to get legal by paying taxes and getting above board, paying a fine, learning English, if they have to.

So the good news is we have bipartisan support for that. We have a Senate bill that would accomplish that. The House Republicans refuse to do that. And what I said to them was, "If you do not act on something that's so common sense that you got labor, business, evangelicals, law enforcement, you've got folks across the board supporting it, then I'm going to look for all the legal authorities I have to act."

What we've now done is laid the groundwork for that. Jeh Johnson, the head of the Department of Homeland Security, has presented me preliminary, you know, ideas in terms of how we can take executive action. And what I've determined is I want to make sure we get it right. I want to make sure, number one, that all the t’s--

CHUCK TODD: But the politics, I mean, it looks like election year politics.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Not only do I want to make sure that the Ts are crossed and the Is are dotted, but here’s the thing, and Chuck, and I'm being honest now, about the politics of it. This problem with unaccompanied children that we saw a couple weeks ago, where you had, from Central America, a surge of kids who were showing up at the border, got a lot of attention.

And a lot of Americans started thinking, "We've got this immigration crisis on our hands." Now, the fact of the matter is-- is that the number of people apprehended crossing our borders has plummeted over the course of the decade. It's far lower than it was 10 years ago.

And in terms of these unaccompanied children, we've actually systematically worked through the problem, so that the surge in June dropped in July, dropped further in August. It's now below what it was last year. But that's not the impression on people's minds. And what I want to do is, when I take executive action, I want to make sure that it's sustainable. I want to make sure—

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