resident Barack Obama is on the verge of announcing significant executive actions that could affect at least a portion of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants residing in the United States.
As is often the case these days, rumors and pieces of the plan have floated through the media for a couple weeks now, and Obama appears ready to announce the full details Thursday night in an address to the nation.
The decision to act unilaterally without going through Congress is not only controversial, but could it also be a change in direction for the Obama administration?
Obama doesn’t see it that way. The Democratic leader was asked about his immigration plan during his trip to Australia for the G20 Summit on Nov. 16.
Jim Avila of ABC asked, "In 2010, when asked by immigration reform advocates to stop deportations and act alone on providing legal status for the undocumented, you said, ‘I’m president, I’m not king. I can’t do these things just by myself.’ In 2013, you said, ‘I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed.’ Mr. President, what has changed since then?"
Obama replied: "Well, actually, my position hasn’t changed. When I was talking to the advocates, their interest was in me, through executive action, duplicating the legislation that was stalled in Congress. And getting a comprehensive deal of the sort that is in the Senate legislation, for example, does extend beyond my legal authorities. There are certain things I cannot do. There are certain limits to what falls within the realm of prosecutorial discretion in terms of how we apply existing immigration laws."
First, Obama is revising history. While at one point he used the "I am not a king" line to rebut those who asked why his administration wasn’t doing enough to address comprehensive reform, as you’ll see, he continued to use it when asked about other, more limited uses with his executive powers.
Second, taking any additional executive actions, no matter how limited, is still a reversal from his positions over the past few years.
Turn to Steve Contorno's fact-check from PolitiFact to read more.