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President Barack Obama on Tuesday acknowledged the next president could overturn his executive actions on immigration, but said pressure from the American people would make a reversal politically difficult.
“It’s true that a future administration might try to reverse some of our policies. But I’ll be honest with you, I think that the American people basically have a good heart and want to treat people fairly,” Obama said during a town hall conversation in Nashville, Tenn.
The president’s recent unilateral actions could help five million undocumented immigrants stay in the country legally. But some looking to take advantage of the policy worry that signing up for eligibility could serve as a future deportation list if the next president wants to terminate the order.
“I think any future administration that tried to punish people for doing the right thing, I think, would not have the support of the American people,” Obama assured an anxious questioner.
Potential GOP presidential candidates in 2016 have lambasted Obama for it, some for the policy itself and others for its legality.
Republicans in Congress have vowed to fight the executive action when they control both chambers of Congress next year.
An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released last month before Obama officially announced the executive order found nearly half of Americans disapproved of the president acting alone on immigration.