By Justin Sink
September 8, 2014
The White House defended its decision to delay action on immigration reform Monday, saying President Obama "wants an opportunity to explain to the American public" why his moves "make sense."
"He wants to wait until the political season ends because it'll be clear to the American public it will be easier to protect the action that he takes," domestic policy adviser Cecilia Muñoz said during an interview with MSNBC.
"And it will also ensure that we're still on a course to try to get the Congress to act and actually to fulfill their responsibility here and pass a bipartisan immigration reform, like the Senate did over a year ago."
The senior White House adviser repeatedly blamed congressional Republicans for fostering a "political maelstrom" around the issue of immigration reform, accusing the GOP of trying to "politicize the issue overall in a way which does not lend itself to the public really understanding and grasping" the true dynamics. She said, by delaying his action, the president would be able to better explain and defend it.
"[The president] wants to make sure that when he acts, he can protect it, and that we can get on with the immigration reform debate this country deserves," Muñoz said.
Immigration activists have lambasted the administration's decision to delay executive action, calling it a betrayal.
"To wait nine more weeks means that I must again look my mother in the eye and see the fear she has about living under the threat of deportation every day," said Cristina Jiménez, director of United We Dream, an advocacy group.
“But Dreamers will not soon forget the president and Democrats’ latest failure and their attempts to fool the Latino community, and we remain resolute in fighting for justice for our families," Jiménez added.
Muñoz said she had spoken with some of those activists to assure them "the president wants the same things that you want."
"He's keeping his eye on the ball for doing that," Muñoz said. "He's asking them to wait a few weeks before he takes action. And we all need to be on the same page making sure that we do what's in the best interest of the country, which is making sure we move forward in immigration debate that will result in bipartisan action."
Muñoz also again pledged the White House would act before the end of the year.
"The most important thing is that he does intend to act and he'll do it by the end of the year," she said.
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