President Barack Obama said he would have implemented planned executive actions to reform immigration policy, but the early summer crisis of unaccompanied minors on the border changed the “politics” of the situation.
In an interview set to air on Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” Obama tells NBC host Chuck Todd his rational for delaying action until after the 2014 midterm elections: The thousands of young undocumented children who showed up at the U.S.-Mexican border had made the political winds too strong.
“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,” Obama said, according to an NBC transcript. “Now, the fact of the matter is … 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.”
The White House revealed Saturday morning that it would back off its earlier pledge for executive action by the end of summer. Fierce criticism from immigration reform advocates soon followed, with some accusing the president of being “scared out of his boots” by conservative Republicans.
But Obama insisted that his delayed plan would lead to “more sustainable” reform in the long run, when the public can better understand what he will be doing.
“I’m going to act because it’s the right thing for the country. But it’s going to be more sustainable and more effective if the public understands what the facts are on immigration,” Obama said. “The truth of the matter is … the politics did shift midsummer because of that problem. I want to spend some time, even as we’re getting all our ducks in a row for the executive action, I also want to make sure that the public understands why we’re doing this.”
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