Immigration reform: Congress can still act before midterms, Obama says (+video)
President Obama says the window for passing immigration reform legislation is rapidly closing as midterm elections approach. Will he go it alone if the House doesn't pick up the ball?
President Obama said Tuesday he is still holding out hope that Congress will find time to pass some form of immigration reform before politicians become completely consumed with the upcoming midterm elections.
"We've got this narrow window. The closer we get to the midterm elections, the harder it is to get things done around here," Mr. Obama said at a White House meeting of top law enforcement officials, Reuters reported. "We've got maybe a window ... of two, three months to get the ball rolling in the House of Representatives.”
The president reiterated that he would be willing to accept a compromise as long as the bill that reaches his desk affords “some path to citizenship.”
The Senate passed immigration legislation 11 months ago with bipartisan support, but the House has yet to introduce a corresponding bill.
House Speaker John Boehner has chided fellow Republicans for not taking action on the issue.
"Here's the attitude. Ohhhh. Don't make me do this. Ohhhh. This is too hard," Speaker Boehner told a luncheon crowd at Brown's Run County Club in Madison Township in April, according to Cincinnati.com.
Boehner has since said those comments were meant as good-natured teasing and that the true onus for the lack of immigration reform falls on the president.
"I wanted to make sure the members understood that the biggest impediment we have in moving immigration reform is that the American people don't trust the president to enforce or implement the law that we may or may not pass," Boehner said, according to the Associated Press.
While Obama has made very clear that he would like to see a new immigration bill pass Congress, recent reports indicate he has been positioning himself to take executive action within the confines of existing immigration laws.
In late April, the Associated Press reported that Secretary Johnson has been considering allowing immigrants living in the US illegally to remain in the country as long as they do not have serious criminal records.
Some evidence suggests the Obama administration has already been turning a blind eye to undocumented immigrants who do not have a criminal history.
A report released last month by the Migration Policy Institute revealed that three quarters of those immigrants deported by the administration in the last five years had criminal records, according to The New York Times.
The report also found that 85 percent of immigrants flagged for possible deportation in 2013 were not actually deported because they did not have criminal records, fueling Republican criticisms that the president has not been uniformly enforcing existing laws, the Times reported.