Obama explains why he is delaying executive action on immigration

President Barack Obama on Saturday defended his decision to delay taking executive action on immigration, saying he wasn’t playing election year politics when he decided…
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Obama explains why he is delaying executive action on immigration

President Obama said he is delaying taking executive action on immigration because he wants more time to explain to the American people why he is taking action to overhaul the nation’s immigration system. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Barack Obama on Saturday defended his decision to delay taking executive action on immigration, saying he wasn’t playing election year politics when he decided to wait until after the November elections to act.

In an interview taped Saturday for NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Obama said he didn’t decide to delay action in order to save vulnerable Senate Democrats from losing their seats in the midterm elections. “That’s not the reason,” he said.

SEE ALSO: Obama delays executive action on immigration until after elections

So why did he delay taking executive action on immigration? Obama said he did it because the influx of unaccompanied minors coming across the border shifted the politics on immigration, and he wants more time to explain to the American people why he is taking action.

“The truth of the matter is, that the politics did shift midsummer because of that problem,” Obama said in the interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd that aired Sunday. “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.”

Barack Obama

President Obama explains to NBC’s Chuck Todd why he decided to delay executive action on immigration. (Photo credit: NBC News)

Obama’s comments about the politics of immigration shifting are supported by a poll released last week by the Pew Research Center. The poll shows the share of people who favor a focus on better border security and tougher enforcement of immigration laws jumped from 25 percent in February 2013 to 33 percent in August 2014.

The poll also shows there has been little change in the share of people who say the priority should be on creating a way for undocumented immigrants to become citizens if they meet certain criteria, going from 25 percent in February 2013 to 23 percent in August 2014.

At the same time, the poll shows the share of people who say both approaches should be prioritized equally fell from 47 percent in February 2013 to 41 percent in August 2015.

Obama had originally promised to take executive action to overhaul the nation’s immigration system before the end of the summer. His decision to delay action disappointed many immigration advocates who for months had been calling on him to take “bold” executive actions to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.

SEE ALSO: Most undocumented immigrants have strong ties to the U.S.

The president concluded the interview on “Meet the Press” by saying he wants to create “sustainable” policies on immigration.

“When I take executive action, I want to make sure that it’s sustainable,” he said. “I’m going to act because it’s the right thing for the country. But it’s going to be more sustainable and more effective if the public understands what the facts are on immigration, what we’ve done on unaccompanied children, and why it’s necessary.”