WASHINGTON — In the face of an unyielding Congress, President Barack Obama will act on his own to make changes in immigration policy, says a White House official, who indicated executive steps Obama could begin promptly as he refocuses immigration enforcement away from the country's interior and on to a Mexican border overrun by children crossing illegally from Central America.
The official said Obama decided to bypass Congress after House speaker John Boehner informed him last week that the House would not vote on an immigration overhaul this year. Obama was expected to address the status of immigration policy later Monday.
The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to discuss the plans by name in advance of Obama's presentation.
Obama's decision effectively declares that a broad based change in immigration policy is dead for the year, and perhaps for the remainder of his administration. Changing immigration laws and providing a path to citizenship for about 11 million immigrants in the country illegally has been one Obama's top priorities as he sought to conclude his presidency with a major second-term victory.
Obama's ability to undertake changes on his own is limited, however.
He is instructing Homeland Security Department Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder to present him with executive actions he can take without congressional approval by the end of the summer.
Still, in responding to the influx of unaccompanied children, Obama plans to concentrate immigration resources on the border areas. The move will effectively reduce the number of deportations in the country's interior by stressing enforcement action on individuals who are either recent unlawful border crossers or who present a national security, public safety, or border security threat.