Washington (AFP) — President Barack Obama faced criticism from foes and allies on Sunday after his decision to delay immigration reform until after November’s midterm elections.
Republicans and Democrats both condemned Obama’s decision, announced on Saturday, to delay using his executive power to break the deadlock until after this year’s polls.
The decision was widely interpreted as a political move designed to protect Democratic Party lawmakers battling to cling to seats in the elections.
Obama told NBC’s “Meet The Press” in an interview aired on Sunday that the crisis over migrant children flooding into the United States had altered the political climate.
“The truth of the matter is that the politics did shift midsummer because of that problem,” Obama acknowledged, saying more time was needed to explain the proposed reforms to voters.
“I want to spend some time, even as we’re getting all our ducks in a row for the executive action, I also want to make sure that the public understands why we’re doing this, why it’s the right thing for the American people, why it’s the right thing for the American economy,” Obama said.
But Obama’s decision on reforms, which would address the fate of some 11 million undocumented migrants in the United States, was attacked by Republicans, who are opposed to any possibility of an amnesty.
“He doesn’t want to be held accountable by the electorate in the mid-term elections for an action that he knows is unpopular,” said Republican Senator Marco Rubio on CBS television.
“Because the American people don’t want to do anything on immigration until they know that the border, and the illegal immigration system, is secure,” added Rubio, seen as a potential Republican candidate for the White House in 2016.
Democratic Senator Robert Menendez meanwhile told Fox News he was “deeply disappointed that the President hasn’t acted.”
Menendez was one of the architects of a historic reform bill passed by the Senate in 2013, which provided millions of migrants with a route towards citizenship.
The Republican-dominated House of Representatives has never considered the bill, leaving the legislation in limbo.
AFP photo/Mark Ralston
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