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A top House Democrat who is participating in bipartisan negotiations on immigration said President Barack Obama is ready to introduce his own legislation and take further executive action if those talks fall apart.
Obama “hasn’t presented a bill, yet,” Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra said. “But I bet if you were to ask him, would he be prepared to submit a bill if Congress isn’t ready real soon. He would tell you, ‘I have no doubt. I can do it in a heart beat.’”
The California Democrat added that White House officials are “exploring” further executive actions to “improve the system,” but he said Obama prefers not to go that route because “it’s only temporary. Those executive actions last only as long as the executives who are there continue them.”
Last year, Obama unilaterally instituted a controversial policy of not prosecuting illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. when they were minors.
Becerra’s focus on what Obama would do if Congress does not act on its own marks a change in tone from last week, when he said the secretive immigration group he is part of was “on the cusp” of a bipartisan deal.
He said lawmakers involved in the issue think Congress must pass legislation before the August recess if the effort is to be successful.