President Barack Obama demurred Wednesday when asked on Spanish-language television whether he would consider a moratorium on deportations of undocumented people without a criminal record.
“I think it’s important to remind everybody that, what I’ve said previously, I am not a king, I am head of the executive branch of government,” Obama said in an interview with Univision. “I am required to follow the law, and that is what we’ve done.”
“But what I have also said is let’s make sure we apply law in a way that takes into account” people’s humanity, Obama said.
The president, instead, put the onus on Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration overhaul bill, saying he expects immigration revisions to be law before the end of the year. “I think so,” he said, adding “Si se puede.”
Obama said he would not let immigration talks languish on Capitol Hill for an indeterminate amount of time, reiterating that he stands ready to release his own overhaul bill if efforts in the Senate get bogged down.
“If they are on a path as they have said, they want to get this bill done by March. ... I am not going to lay out a specific date because I want to give them room to debate. If it slips a week, that’s one thing, but if it starts slipping three months, that’s a problem,” Obama said in an interview with Univision.
A group of eight senators, including Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., and John McCain, R-Ariz., are working to draft legislation that it hopes can be cleared by the Senate in late spring or early summer.
Obama said that success is contingent on Republicans and Democrats working together on a bipartisan deal.
“The only way we get this done is if the Republicans continue to work with Democrats in Congress, in both chambers, in order to get a bill to my desk,” Obama said.
Along with Schumer and McCain, the group includes Republicans Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida and Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Democrats Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado.