By Stephen Dinan
The Washington Times
Monday, November 25, 2013
Immigration-rights protesters interrupted President Obama's speech Monday demanding he use executive powers to immediately halt all deportations, but he rebuked them, telling them he doesn't have that power.
"You have a power to stop deportation," one man, standing directly behind Mr. Obama, shouted near the end of the president's immigration speech in San Francisco, who then began to lead chants of "Stop deportation!"
"Actually, I don't, and that's why we are here," Mr. Obama replied.
When security moved to escort the protester out of the room, Mr. Obama told them to hold off.
"These guys don't need to go. let me finish. No, no, he can stay there," he said.
He went on to say if he thought he had unilateral powers to halt deportations, he would. But he said that would actually break the law.
Mr. Obama raised expectations last year by issuing a directive halting deportations for most young illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. As of August, more than 450,000 of them have been granted papers exempting them from deportation.
Immigrant-rights groups argue that he could use those same powers to grant a temporary reprieve to most of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.
But Mr. Obama, while issuing several other directives halting deportations for certain favored categories such as families of troops and veterans, said he can't halt all deportations.
"If in fact I could solve all these problems without passing the laws in Congress then I would do so. But we're also a nation of laws, that's part of our tradition," he said.
"The easy way out is to yell and pretend I can try and do something by violating our laws. what I'm proposing is the harder path," Mr. Obama said. "It requires us lobbying and getting it done."