The White House acknowledged that President Barack Obama may miss a self-imposed deadline for taking executive action on immigration as his advisers debate delaying an announcement until after the election.
Obama “hasn’t made a decision about the timing” of any announcement, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters today at his daily briefing.
“There is the chance that it could be before the end of the summer,” he said. “There is the chance that it could be after the summer.”
Administration officials are weighing postponement of the planned executive actions amid concerns that they would damage the re-election prospects of Democratic senators in competitive races, according to an advocate who has spoken with White House officials.
Republicans need a net gain of six seats to take control of the 100-member Senate. While action by Obama would energize Hispanic voters, who could be decisive for Democrats in Colorado, and possibly in Georgia and North Carolina, it also would probably spur Republican turnout.
The president is considering steps to protect millions more undocumented immigrants from deportation, expanding a 2012 administration program that deferred deportations of people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
Obama said in June that he would announce executive actions on immigration by the end of the summer after House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, told him the House wouldn’t vote on Senate-passed legislation.
The flood of unaccompanied and undocumented children, mostly from Central America, trying to enter the U.S. has since ignited passions on the issue, and Republican candidates have attacked their Democratic opponents on the issue.
Republican candidates in Arkansas, New Hampshire and Michigan are running television ads on immigration. Democratic candidates in Kentucky, New Hampshire, Alaska and North Carolina have urged Obama not to take unilateral action.
Immigration has surged to the top of Republican voters’ list of concerns. They now consider the issue the country’s most pressing problem, ranking above the economy, unemployment and government dysfunction, according to Gallup polls taken in July and August.
Earnest said Obama planned to leave today for summits in Estonia and Wales without receiving the results of a review he had ordered of potential executive actions on immigration.
“That review is still under way, Earnest said. ‘‘The president’s determination to act and his commitment to acting has not changed in any way.’’
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