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White House: Obama Waited Long Enough for GOP on Immigration

There have been renewed calls for the president to hold off, again, so the GOP can act on immigration. The White House response: No.
Image: Sara Ramirez
Light is reflected on Sara Ramirez, of Gaithersberg, Md., as she rallies for comprehensive immigration reform outside the White House in Washington, Friday, Nov. 7, 2014. "I've worked as a community organizer and I've seen the pain of the families," says Ramirez, who is originally from Guatemala, "their pain is immense." (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Stop us if you've heard this before.

President Barack Obama wants to take executive action on immigration reform. Immigration advocates are demanding he halt deportations. Politicians are asking the president to wait.

It's deja vu all over again.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Thursday he's been pleading with the president not to take unilateral action and House Speaker John Boehner said the president would be playing with fire and poisoning the well, if he does take executive action. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said it would be like waving a red flag in front of a bull.

Obama gave Republicans space to pass immigration reform last year, withholding criticism of Republicans for failing to move forward, only to have House Republicans stop all work, even their own, on immigration reform, saying the American people didn't trust Obama to enforce immigration laws.

Obama made clear in his news conference after the elections that he would take action by the end of the year and shot back to Republicans that they can stop him from doing so by passing an immigration bill.

"What I'm not going to do is just wait. I think it's fair to say I've shown a lot of patience and tried to work on a bipartisan basis as much as possible," Obama said.

Since the calls for delays had renewed as Obama was to meet with congressional leaders, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest underscored the point saying the president would not move back the timeline again.

Earnest said Boehner had refused to commit in his post-election news conference Wednesday to bringing up immigration reform and "that has been his posture for well over a year now." Republicans have had "ample opportunity" to solve the problems of the nation's immigration system, he said.

The White House could similarly label the Republicans' attempts once again to repeal Obamacare as playing with fire and waving a red flag in front of a bull, a comparison Earnest said he wasn't sure he got: "Anyone who's been to a bullfight probably doesn't want to be the bull in that analogy."

He said Republicans could easily take up the bipartisan immigration bill passed in the Senate last year. That he said is the GOP's "trump card" over Obama's executive order. Democrats and Republicans could try to find common ground on the issue, he said.

"It's not a threat. The president made a promise he's going to act before the end of the year and that's exactly what he's going to do," Earnest said.