Earnest on Executive Amnesty: Obama Is Just Doing What Reagan and Bush 41 Did
"The president does have significant authority and this is authority that’s invested in the executive branch of the United States. This is the authority that previous presidents, both Democrats and Republicans have used. President George H.W. Bush used some of this authority to help some immigrants in this country who are not covered under existing immigration law. That granted a relief to more than a million immigrants in this country. President Reagan did something similar. So this is authority that’s been used by Republican presidents and today Democratic president Barack Obama is going to use this authority to really fix our system and make a substantial contribution in a way that will be good for the economy, reduce the deficit, and strengthen our security at the border.
We’re doing it now because House Republicans have indicated they’re not going to bring up that bipartisan Senate bill that has so much support. They’re not going to allow that bill to get a vote in the House of Representatives. We know why they are not going to do that. Because they know, as we do, that if that bill were allowed to come up for a vote, it would actually pass in bipartisan fashion in the House, the same way it passed in bipartisan fashion in the Senate. And just two weeks ago when Speaker Boehner was doing his post election news conference, he was asked by reporters in that news conference if he would bring up -- commit to bringing up immigration reform legislation in the next Congress and he wouldn’t do it. So House Republicans have indicated they’re opposed to immigration reform, that they’re not going to act on it legislatively and the president simply isn’t going to tolerate that. The country isn't comfortable with that. There’s strong bipartisan support across the country for immigration reform.
So the president has said he’s going to use all the executive authority he has to try to fix some of these problems. Now, we’re going to continue to be willing to work with Congress to try to address these problems. We believe that's the best way to solve this problem. But if the president has an opportunity to solve some of these problems on his own, he’s going to do that, and that’s what he’s going to announce tonight."