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Pres. Obama Defends Deportation Record: ‘I’m Not A King’

In a pair of interviews with Univision and Telemundo, President Obama expressed his desire to pass an immigration reform bill this year. Asked about his deportations of undocumented immigrants, the president said he still has to abide by the law.

“I think this is something we should be able to get done certainly this year,” Obama told Telemundo, “and I’d like to see if we could get it done sooner, in the first half of the year if possible.”

He went on to note that “it’s a matter of Republicans and Democrats coming together and finding a meeting of the minds.” Asked about Sen. Marco Rubio‘s criticism that any bill needs to put border security ahead of a pathway to citizenship, Obama said he’s done just that.

The administration has “done more on border security in the last four years than we have in the previous 20,” he told Univision. “We’ve actually done almost everything that Republicans asked to be done several years ago as a condition to move ahead on comprehensive immigration reform.”

The president was also asked about deportation. Last year, he issued a policy that would halt deportation for many young undocumented immigrants. But beyond that, he said, he still must follow the law.

Per the Washington Post:

Obama faced questioning from both networks on whether he would slow deportations while immigration reform is being debated — or offer the kind of reprieve to illegal immigrants that he did to young undocumented immigrants last year.

He responded that he probably would not.

“I’m not a king. My job as the head of the executive branch ultimately is to carry out the law,” Obama told Telemundo. “When it comes to enforcement of our immigration laws, we’ve got some discretion. We can prioritize what we do. But we can’t simply ignore the law.”

“What we’ve seen is that the people who are being deported, the vast majority of them now are criminals,” Obama said. “That did not used to be the case. But there are still obviously gonna be people who get caught up in the system.”

Obama noted that more obstacles to passing reform could arise, but said “the one thing I can guarantee is my effort. I can guarantee that I will put everything I’ve got behind it.”

(h/t WaPo, CNN)

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