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President Barack Obama touted his administration’s controversial decision to end deportations of many young illegal immigrants in the Rose Garden today amid heckling by a reporter from the conservative-leaning Daily Caller website.
Obama criticized Congress for failing to act on immigration — calling out Republicans for helping to write the DREAM Act and then filibustering it in 2010.
And he contended that the people eligible are American in all but legal status.
“These are young people who study in our schools, they play in our neighborhoods, they’re friends with our kids, they pledge allegiance to our flag. They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper,” Obama said.
The DREAM Act would provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrant children who go to college or join the military, but it has been stalled in Congress by GOP objections.
“We are a better nation than one that expels innocent young kids. And the answer to your question sir, the next time I’d prefer that you let me finish my statement before you ask that question, is this is the right thing for the American people,” an angry Obama said to Neil Munro of the Daily Caller, who had interrupted him halfway through his speech with a shouted question about Obama favoring foreigners.
Munro then shouted a question about American workers who might be affected by the policy.
“I didn’t ask for an argument. I’m answering your question,” Obama said. “Here’s why. Here’s the reason, because these young people are going to make extraordinary contributions, are already making contributions to our society. I’ve got a young person who is serving in our military, protecting us and our freedom. The notion that in some ways we would treat them as expendable makes no sense.”
Munro’s interruption was roundly decried as a break in White House decorum by other Washington journalists, but he was the only one who got a question answered in the Rose Garden today.
Obama left the podium without answering reporters’ questions on why he didn’t take this action two years ago, when advocates asked him to do so. Nor did he address the legal basis of his decision beyond saying that it was an improvement of previous guidance on prosecutorial discretion. Obama himself has previously said that he did not have the authority to stop deportations on his own.