WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Friday immigration legislation on track to pass in the House of Representatives is unworkable and will force him to act on his own to address pressures from a surge of illegal immigrants on the southwestern border.
“House Republicans, as we speak, are trying to pass the most extreme and unworkable versions of a bill that they already know is going nowhere,” he told reporters at a news conference.
“Without additional resources and help, we’re just not going to have the resources we need to fully solve the problem,” Obama said. “That means that while they’re out on vacation, I‘m going to have to make some tough choices to meet the challenge, with or without Congress.”
Republicans on Friday were set to vote on border security measures that would make it easier to deport Central American child migrants, satisfying demands from conservative Republicans. The legislation has nearly no chance of becoming law because the Senate is not expected to take it up and the president has said he would veto it.
Republicans have angrily denounced Obama’s practice of acting unilaterally when his agenda is blocked by Congress. House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday said that any action Obama takes on his own to address immigration would only make matters worse and add to “a legacy of lawlessness.”
But the president said on Friday that without help from Congress, he will need to move funds from other government agencies to pay for stepped up efforts to deal with the crisis.
“I‘m going to have to act alone,” he said. “We are going to have to reallocate resources in order to just make sure that some of the basic functions that have to take place down there, whether it’s making sure that these children are properly housed or making sure that we’ve got enough immigration judges to process their cases, that those things get done.”
Reporting by Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Bill Trott and Dan Grebler