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Congress Must Act on Immigration Laws, Obama Adviser Says

President Barack Obama’s decision to stop the deportation of some immigrant children wasn’t politically motivated and didn’t expand his executive powers, White House senior adviser David Plouffe said.

The policy is “fully within our ability,” Plouffe said today on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “This is not amnesty, this is not citizenship.”

The deportation rule is a decision made by the Department of Homeland Security that will enforce the policy, according to Plouffe.

“The Homeland Security attorneys are absolutely confident this is within our authority,” Plouffe said on ABC’s “This Week” program. “We still need a permanent fix.”

Plouffe said congressional action on immigration overhaul is still needed. Obama is ready to sign into law the Dream Act which is designed to provide a path to legal status for younger undocumented immigrants. That legislation has been stalled in Congress.

Politics

Obama announced June 15 that the U.S. will immediately stop deporting some illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and make them eligible for work permits, an election- year action with appeal to Latino voters.

Obama said the change in policy provides a degree of relief and hope “to talented, driven, patriotic young people” and makes the nation’s immigration system “more fair, more efficient, and more just.”

Democrat Obama’s immigration policy pushes the issue back into the spotlight in the presidential election campaign. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has opposed the Dream Act.

Romney has said the Obama action will make it more difficult to deliver a long-term solution to illegal immigration. Romney said in April that he would review a proposal by Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida -- a potential vice presidential running-mate -- to grant work visas to some young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children if they served in the military or pursued an education.

Close Election

Obama will have “to fight for every vote,” in his re- election campaign against Romney, Plouffe said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program today.

Countering criticism of Romney’s opposition to the Dream Act, Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, said on the same program that Romney understands “the plight” of those young people who face deportation.

McCain accused Obama of “dictating” through the executive order which laws are not going to be enforced.

Plouffe, who appeared on four Sunday television talk shows, repeated the Obama campaign message that congressional Republicans are stalling on the economy over the next five months to boost Romney’s election chances.

“Whether it’s failing to move forward on the Dream Act, failing to move forward on putting teachers back to work, failing to do all the things we could do right now to help the economy and middle class, this Congress is just saying no,” Plouffe said on ABC.

Unauthorized Leaks

The White House also has been criticized by Republicans who are saying that disclosures in the media on issues such as drone strikes or cyber attacks on Iran’s nuclear program were meant to boost Obama’s re-election chances.

“He has zero tolerance for this kind of security leak,” Plouffe said of the president on “Fox News Sunday.”

Attorney General Eric Holder has appointed two U.S. attorneys to investigate whether administration officials leaked classified information to reporters.

Senator Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut independent who appeared on “Fox News Sunday,” said he would advise Obama to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the leaks to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. Plouffe said the White House has confidence that the investigation will be thorough and has no plans to appoint a special prosecutor.

“We’re going to let that investigation proceed rather than turning this into some game of distraction,” Plouffe said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Roxana Tiron in Washington at rtiron@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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