President Obama to Congress: ‘Drop the Politics’ on Immigration Reform

Says in Rose Garden remarks: “We now have an actual humanitarian crisis on the border.”
21:12 | 06/30/14

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Transcript for President Obama to Congress: ‘Drop the Politics’ on Immigration Reform
This is an ABC news. Good afternoon I'm David -- from ABC news headquarters in New York to become on the air at this hour because the president is expected to talk about the lightning rod issue. Of immigration from the Rose Garden just moments from now. As you know in recent days we've reported here on the influx of children crossing into the US from the south. Many of them without their parents are cameras right there are so many of them being held in facilities here in the US. The president right here on ABC news in recent days with the message aimed at parents south of the border to not send your children to the US the White House saying quote. Showing up on the border illegally is not a ticket to this country. President Obama had been hoping congress would vote on an immigration overhaul this year our White House team reporting. But the speaker of the house informing the president the house will not take a vote. On reform this year so let's bring in ABC's White House correspond to -- of of course has been reporting from the border in recent weeks he's now back in Washington. At the White House awaiting the president as well and Jim what are we expecting. Well David it was about a year ago back in June 27 of last year that the senate. Pass the comprehensive immigration reform bill since -- the White House has been waiting for the congress to -- for the house to follow up. It is not done so the president today is expected to say. He's given up on the congress and he's going to act on his own. He won't say exactly how is gonna act we understand but you will tell us about that his aides have been asked to come up with some ideas and that they'll present to him by the end of summer. You heard that from Jim -- a right there the president is expected to. -- here in the Rose Garden that he will take executive action to get around congress he had been hoping for immigration reform that there'd be some sort of vote by year's end. Informed in recent days by the speaker of house John Boehner that there would not be a vote by the end of the year mr. Who's been at the border in the last couple weeks now in Washington saying that the president now it would appear is -- is looking to take action on his own. The White House saying that this would not replace what what congress could do but in the meantime that he would take steps. However in -- selling covers Capitol Hill forest -- how. His comments -- was expected to react to this. Well David congress is not going to react very well to this at all it's one of the reasons that the House of Representatives the Republicans are bringing a lawsuit against the president they say he's been overreaching -- -- His entire. That time in office that this is -- those controversial. Issue. Republicans in the house or so skittish and so skeptical. Of doing anything on immigration reform so the chances of passing this we're not very strong anyway but that word from speaker Boehner last week to the president privately. Was just -- a final chapter honored -- it. -- thank you it's expected the president will direct the secretary of homeland security and the attorney general to look at options to present those options to the White House and as you heard Jeff. Report there that this is expected not to be. Taken. Welcomed by many members of congress who have informed the president that they would not move on immigration reform this year. The president has been criticized for taking. Executive action before on a number of issues. And we wanna go back to -- -- in you have been at the border and as we await the president here. You've seen it yourself the mother in particular the image that we aired on world news collapsing. As she brought to her own family crossed the border collapsing when they told her -- made it to the US. Oh that's right David in fact that -- -- two separate issues the president has said that the only way to fix what's going on the border. Right now where this influx of Central American unaccompanied minors this to pass comprehensive immigration reform. He's been disappointed that this has not happened -- supposed to come here with the vice president any moment now and announce that he is in fact gonna take his own actions as you say David. And what -- -- -- what they're studying a couple of main things about mostly about deportations. As the president the vice president make their way -- to the podium. -- at the White House and thanks to you Indian -- felony and the president with the vice president they're behind at holy spirit murder verdict. One year ago this month. Senators of both parties. With support from the business community of labor. Law enforcement. Faith communities. Came together to pass a common sense immigration. Independent experts said that bill would strengthen our borders. To grow our economy. Shrink our deficits. As we speak there are enough Republicans and Democrats in the house. To pass an immigration bill today. I would sign it into law. Today. In Washington. Would solve a problem. In a bipartisan way. But for more than a year. Republicans in the House of Representatives have refused to allow an up or down vote. On that senate bill. Or any legislation to fix our broken immigration system. And I held off on pressuring them for a long time to give speaker Boehner the space he needed. To get this fellow Republicans on board. Meanwhile here's what a year. Of obstruction has meant. It's meant fewer resources to strengthen our borders. It's meant more businesses -- -- game the system by hiring undocumented workers which punishes businesses the play by the rules. And drives down wages for hard working Americans. It's -- lost talent. When the best and brightest from around the world come to study here -- -- forced to leave. And then compete against our businesses and our workers. It's meant no chance for eleven million immigrants to come out of the shadows and earn their citizenship. If they pay a penalty and -- -- Brett background check. Pay their fair share of taxes learn English. Go to the back of the line. It's -- the heartbreak of separated families. That's what this obstruction has meant over the past year. That's what the senate bill would fix. If the house. Allowed it to go to -- vote. Our country and our economy would be stronger today. If house Republicans had allowed a simple yes or no vote on this bill or for that matter any bill. -- be following the will of the majority of the American people who support reform. And instead -- proven again and again that they're unwilling to stand up. To the Tea Party in order to do what's best for the country. And the worst part about it is a bunch of no matter. We now have an actual humanitarian crisis on the border that only underscores the need to drop -- politics. And fix our immigration system -- -- -- In recent weeks we've seen a surge of unaccompanied children arrive at the border. Brought here and other countries by smugglers and traffickers. The journey is. Unbelievably dangerous for these kids. The children who are fortunate enough to survive it will be taken care of want to go through the legal process but in most cases that process will lead to them being sent back home. I've sent a clear message to parents in these countries not to put their kids through this. A recently sent. Vice President Biden to meet with Central American leaders. And find ways to address the root causes of this crisis. Secretary -- will also be meeting -- those leaders again tomorrow. -- our international partners were taking new steps to go after the dangerous smugglers were putting thousands of children lives at risk. Today I sent a letter to congressional leaders asking that they work -- made to address. The urgent humanitarian challenge on the border and support the immigration and Border Patrol agents. Who already apprehend and deport hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants every year. And understand by the way for the most part. This is not a situation where these children are slipping through. They're being apprehended. But the problem is is that. Our system is so broken so -- clear. That folks don't know what the rules are. Now understands. There are a number of Republicans who have -- willing to work with us to pass real common sense immigration reform. And I want to thank them for their efforts. There -- A number of Republican leaders in the senate. Who did excellent work. And deserve. Our thanks. And less visibly there -- folks in the house have been trying. To work to get this done. And quietly. Because doesn't always help me to praise them. I've expressed to them how much I appreciate their efforts that they make. I believe speaker Boehner when he says he wants to pass. An immigration bill I think he genuinely wants to get something done. But last week. The informing the Republicans will continue to block a vote on immigration reform at least for the remainder of this year. Some in the house vote and caucus are using the situation -- unaccompanied children as there newest excuse to do nothing. I want her way to think about bet they're argument seems to be that. Because the system's broken. We should make an effort fix it. It makes no sense. It's not on the level. It's just politics. Plain and simple. Other others in the Republican caucus in the house. Who arguing that they can't act because they're mad at me about using my executive authority. Too broadly. This also makes no sense. I don't prefer taking administrative action. I'd rather see permanent fixes. To -- issue we face certainly that's true on immigration. I've made that clear multiple times I would love nothing more. Then bipartisan legislation to pass the house the senate land on my desk so I can -- -- about immigration. Mr. about the minimum wage. -- about equal pay their whole bunch of things where I would greatly prefer. Congress actually do something. I take executive action only when we have a serious. Problem. A serious issue. And congress chooses to do nothing. And in this situation. The failure of house Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad -- security it's bad for our economy. That's bad for our future. So. While I won't continue to push house Republicans to drop the -- -- -- -- And I hope their constituents well to. America cannot wait for ever. For them to act. And that's why today. I'm beginning a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own. Without congress. As first up I'm directing the -- of Homeland Security. And the attorney general to move available and appropriate resources from our interior to the more. Protecting public safety and deporting dangerous criminals has been and will remain the top priority but we are going to refocus. Our efforts where we can to make sure we do what it takes to keep our border secure. I've also directed secretary -- Johnson and attorney general holder. -- identified additional actions my administration can take on our -- within my existing legal authorities. To do what congress refuses to do and -- as much of our immigration system as we can't. If congress will not do their job at least we can do -- Expect the recommendations before the end of the summer. And I -- to adopt those recommendations without further delay. Of course even with aggressive steps on my part administrative action alone will not adequately. Address the problem. The reforms that will do the most to strengthen our businesses -- workers and our entire economy. -- still require an act of congress. And I repeat these are reforms that already enjoy the wide support of the American people. It's very rare where you get labor business. -- evangelicals. Law enforcement. All agreeing. On what needs to be done. And at some point. -- should be enough normally that is enough to. The point of public services to solve public problems and those of us. Who have the privilege to serve have a responsibility to do everything in our power to keep Americans safe and -- keep the doors of opportunity open. And if we do. Than one year from now not only what our economy our security be stronger but. Maybe the best and the brightest from around the world who come to study here would stay and create jobs here. Maybe company is the pure play by the rules will no longer be undercut by companies that don't. Maybe more families have been living here for years. Whose children are often US citizens. For our neighbors and our friends. And his children are our kids' friends and go to school -- and play on ball teams what. Maybe those families would get to stay together. But much of this only happens if Americans. Continue to push congress to get this done. So -- told speaker -- That even as. I take those steps that I -- within my existing legal authorities. -- make the immigration system work better. -- continue to reach out. To house Republicans. In the hope that they deliver more from permanent solution. -- -- comprehensive bill. Maybe you'll be after the mid terms when -- less worried about politics. Maybe you'll be next year. Whenever it is they will find me a willing partner. I've been consistent in saying. That I am prepared to work with them even on a bill that I don't consider perfect. And the senate bill was a good example. The capacity to compromise and get this done the only thing I can't do is stand by and do nothing. While waiting for them to get their act together. And I want a repeat what I said earlier if house Republicans are really concerned about me. Taking too many executive actions the best solution to that is passing bills. Pass a bill. Solve a problem. Don't just say no. On something that everybody agrees needs to be done. Because if we pass a bill. That will. It's a plant. What are I've done administratively we'll have a structure there that works. And it will be permanent. And people can make plans and businesses can make plans based on. The law. -- -- -- -- Both here inside this. Country and outside. -- -- disclosed by saying Friday is the fourth of July. Today we celebrate our independence. And all the things the make this country so -- And each -- Michelle I host a few hundred service members and wounded warriors and their families. Right here on the long for barbecue and fireworks on the mall. Some of the service members coming -- -- unique. Because they sign up to serve. To sacrifice. Potentially. To give their lives. For the security of this -- Even though they weren't yet Americans. That's how much they love this country they were prepared to fight and die for an America. They did not yet fully belong to. I think they've earned their stripes and more ways than one. That's why on Friday morning we're gonna nationalize them in a ceremony right here at the White House. This Independence -- will be their first day as American citizens. One of things we celebrate on Friday on things that makes this country great is that we are a nation. Of immigrants. Our people come from every corner of the goal. That's what makes -- special that's what makes us unique. And throughout our history we've come here in wave after wave from. From everywhere. Understanding that would. There was something about this place where. The hole was greater than the sum of its parts. That all of -- different cultures and ideas and energy. Would would would come together. And and create something new. We won this country's freedom together. We built this country together we defended this country together. It makes a special it makes a strong. It makes us Americans. -- we're celebrating. And that's what I want. Not just house Republicans but all of us as Americans to remember. Thanks very much. President Obama there at the White House clearly frustrated over the issue of immigration talking to the American people that make no mistake this was. A message aimed squarely at the House of Representatives the president saying there are enough Democrats and Republicans. Let's pass immigration reform today -- but that Republicans in the house have refused an up or down vote. He said I take executive action only when congress chooses to do nothing and said he would talking about resources at the border security. And that he would identify additional actions within his legal authority want to bring back into Celanese -- what exactly does that mean how much can -- get done and and it's not -- -- -- -- Capitol Hill is in recess how are they likely reacting this back in their home districts. Well David I've been talking to some Republican leaders even as the president was speaking and it's clear that they are very agitated by this. Speaker banners top aides tell me that the speaker did not definitively say. That he would not bring up immigration reform he simply said how -- -- it would be. Given the fact that the president is not believed by a lot of people in congress so what is happening here is just a complete breakdown of things between the White House and the president and David this conversation came between the president and speaker Boehner last week at the White House as they were -- added golfing events it was a private conversation that has led to this before meeting with Tiger -- -- I understand it -- meantime Jeff on legal authority -- just a few moments left how much can get done. The fact is still be doing very small piecemeal things he cannot do anything conference -- -- big without congressional approval. That executive actions in a very important a certain people so small actions in the days ahead. We'll see how big they are -- -- selling to marvel at the White House for teens and Washington we think you will have much more. And you can continue to get the latest on immigration reform -- this story on. ABC news the mobile -- and get personalize alerts throughout the day of course we will have much more tonight on world news with Diane Sawyer I hope to see you a bit later here. Until then have a good afternoon. This has been a special. From ABC.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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