September 28, 2014
President Obama will “make good” on his promise to implement executive actions to address problems with the immigration system by the end of the year, press secretary Josh Earnest said Sunday.
The president had initially pledged to take unilateral action on immigration by the end of the summer, but the White House announced earlier this month that he would hold off until after the midterm elections.
White House officials have said Obama was concerned that moving before the midterm elections would make reform a partisan issue and polarize support against it, although the move was widely seen as a concession to Senate Democrats who were locked in tough reelection battles and begged Obama to hold off.
The delay has bred new concerns among immigration activists that the president will not ever take the executive action, but Earnest insisted that was not the case.
“This is a promise the president will keep,” Earnest said during an appearance on Telemundo’s “Enfoque con Jose Diaz-Balart.” “The president has tasked his team with looking at the law and determining what kind of executive authority he can use to try to address the problems of our broken immigration system. They’ve come up with some good solutions. They will be finalized before the end of the year and the president will announce them before the end of the year.”
Earnest noted that “the president has taken action before that has made a difference in try to addressing some of these problems,” pointing to his deferred action program that allows some who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children to remain without the threat of deportation.
“The president believed that they needed relief. And working with his Homeland Security secretary and other law enforcement officials, was able to bring them relief,” Earnest said. “The president made good on that promise and the president’s gonna make good on this promise too.”
The White House has seen a sharp drop in Latino support following his decision to punt on immigration reform. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll earlier this month showed just 47 percent of Hispanic voters approve of the president’s performance, down 15 percentage points from April, 2013. Fewer than 3 in 10 Latino voters described themselves as “very positive” about Obama.
In a Pew Research poll also released this month, a majority of Hispanic Democrats – 52 percent – said their party wasn’t doing a good job on immigration issues.
The president is expected to explain his decision to delay executive action in greater detail on Thursday night, when he’s set to address the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s annual awards dinner.