President Barack Obama said Friday that he will continue with his plan to halt the deportation of up to five million illegal immigrants despite Republican threats that executive actions on the contentious issue will prevent cooperation in the future with the new Congress.
At a news conference in Yangon, Myanmar, Obama said that a rewrite of the nation’s immigration laws must happen soon.
“It’s way overdue,” said Obama, standing next to Mynamar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. “We’ve been talking about this for over 10 years now.”
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But Obama said his immigration actions don’t “preclude us from working together on a whole range of issues.”
“I’m game,” he said on working with Republicans.
Obama promised to act before the end of the year and news reports this week said he may issue a series of executive actions as early as next week after returning from an eight-day three-nation trip to Asia and Australia.
“That’s gonna happen,” he said. “That’s gonna happen before the end of the year.”
The New York Times reported Thursday that Obama could allow millions of parents of children who are US citizens or legal residents to obtain legal work documents. Other changes, the newspaper said, could include protections for illegal immigrants who came to the US as children and their parents and for farm workers who have entered the country illegally but have been employed for years in the agriculture industry and high-tech workers.
Just before a the news conference, a top White House official told reporters that no final proposals for the executive action have reached Obama and the timing of an announcement remains uncertain.
In the news conference, Obama again blamed House Republicans for failing to vote on a Senate immigration bill that he supports.
“There has been ample opportunity for lawmakers to pass an immigration bill,” he said. “What they don’t have the ability to do is expect me to stand by with a broken system in perpetuity.”
Last week, after Republicans won control of both chambers of Congress for the first time in his presidency, Obama and the new leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, pledged to work together to govern the nation in a bipartisan way.
Obama said he would talk to Republicans leaders about investing in infrastructure, such as roads and bridges; boosting exports; expanding early childhood education; helping students afford college; and increasing the minimum wage. McConnell said he would work with Obama on changes to the tax code and international trade agreements.
But in response to another question, Obama said at the news conference said Congress “should not short-circuit” a State Deptartment examination into one of the Republicans’ major goals — the Keystone XL pipeline.
Obama says for a “successful partnership” Republicans can’t make differences on one issue a deal breaker on every issue
But on Capitol Hill, already some lawmakers were threatening to cause problems with budget negotiations and the confirmation of Loretta Lynch, the president’s nominee to be attorney general.
House Speaker John Boehner said he would not rule out a lawsuit, which his chamber already voted to proceed on changes with regard to changes to the federal health care law.