President Barack Obama has asked the head of the Department of Homeland Security to hold off on completing a review of the administrations deportation policies until the end of the summer, a White House officials announced Tuesday evening.
The move is intended to save any hopes for the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to pass immigration reform legislation before the August recess.
The Presidents priority is to enact a permanent solution for people currently living in the shadows and that can only come with immigration reform, a White House official said in an email. He believes that there is still an opportunity for legislation to be considered in the House this summer.
The White House official added that Obama has asked DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson to hold on the review of the administrations deportation policies in order to give the House space to fix the broken immigration system, and to deny the Republicans any excuse for further inaction.
In March, amid calls from immigration advocates to stop deportations, Obama directed Johnson to review deportation policies in order to find more humanely ways to carry out enforcement efforts.
The move fueled House Republicans to argue that they cant trust Obama to enforce the law. Other Republicans argued that taking executive action to stop deportations would kill any chances of passing immigration reform legislation in Congress this year.
According to the White House, Johnson has said that he will seek a fresh start on Secure Communities, a federal program that allows local police and immigration officials to share fingerprints data of individuals who are arrested or booked into custody in order to identify undocumented immigrants. There is also speculation that Johnson will update the enforcement priorities that DHS established in 2010.
Tuesdays announcement to delay the review of deportations comes several days after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid warned that the Obama administration will move to provide relief from deportation if the House doesnt act on immigration reform by August.
Weve waited 329 days, Reid said last Thursday, referring to the number of days since the Senate passed its own immigration reform bill. Were willing to wait another six weeks. But at the end of six weeks, if something hasnt been done, then theres going to have to be a move made.