Exclusive: Pres. Obama Blames Border Crisis for Immigration Reform Delay in “Meet the Press” Interview with Chuck Todd

Obama: “The truth of the matter is that the politics did shift midsummer” Extended Interview to Air Sunday on Chuck Todd’s Debut as Moderator of “Meet the Press”

SEPTEMBER 6, 2014 — In an exclusive interview with “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd today, President Barack Obama defended his decision to delay executive action on immigration, saying the summer’s surge of unaccompanied children at the Mexican border changed the politics of the issue.  The president rejected criticism that the postponement is a political tactic intended to help embattled Democrats in the months before contentious midterm elections, saying that the delay will help make new immigration policies “sustainable” when they are announced later this year.

A transcript of this preview is below and video is online here: http://nbcnews.to/1pC0aGQ.

The extended interview will air Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Todd’s debut as the moderator of the longest-running show on network television.  This Sunday’s broadcast will stream live on NBCNews.com from 9-10am ET here: http://nbcnews.to/1obOJq0.

Excerpts of the interview may be used subject to the following restrictions:
a. Mandatory credit to NBC News “Meet the Press” with air date.
b. The onscreen “NBC News Exclusive” credit must be clearly visible and unobstructed at all times in any video clip, screengrab, or other form of media.
c. Embedded web video must stream from the NBCNews.com media player with the unobstructed credit as described above.

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Air Date: Sunday, September 7

CHUCK TODD: Let me go to immigration.  You made a decision to delay any executive action until after the election.  What do you tell the person that’s going to get deported before the election that this decision was essentially made in your hopes of saving a democratic Senate?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, that– that’s not the reason.  A couple of things that I want to say about immigration.  Number one, I have been consistent about why this is important.  The country’s going to be better off if we have an immigration system that works, that has strong border security, that has streamlined our legal immigration, so the best and the brightest who want to stay here and invest here and– and create jobs here can do so, that families can be unified, and that a system where the millions of people who are here, in many cases, for a decade or more — who have American kids, who are neighbors, oftentimes are our friends — that they have a path to get legal by paying taxes and getting above board, paying a fine, learning English, if they have to.

So the good news is we have bipartisan support for that.  We have a Senate bill that would accomplish that.  The House republicans refuse to do that.  And what I said to them was, “If you do not act on something that’s so common sense that you got labor, business, evangelicals, law enforcement, you’ve got folks across the board supporting it, then I’m going to look for all the legal authorities I have to act.”

What we’ve now done is laid the groundwork for that.  Jeh Johnson, the head of the Department of Homeland Security, has presented the preliminary, you know, ideas in terms of how we can take executive action.  And what I’ve determined is I want to make sure we get it right.  I want to make sure, number one, that all the—

CHUCK TODD: But the politics– I mean, it looks like election year politics.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Not only do I want to make sure that the Ts are crossed and the Is are dotted, but (UNINTEL)– and Chuck, and I’m being honest now about the politics of it.  This problem with unaccompanied children that we saw a couple weeks ago, where you had, from Central America, a surge of kids who were showing up at the border, got a lot of attention.

And a lot of Americans started thinking, “We’ve got this immigration crisis on our hands.”  Now, the fact of the matter is– is that the number of people apprehended crossing our borders has plummeted over the course of the decade.  It’s far lower than it was 10 years ago.

And in terms of these unaccompanied children, we’ve actually systematically worked through the problem, so that the surge in June dropped in July, dropped further in August.  It’s now below what it was last year.  But that’s not the impression on people’s minds.  And what I want to do is, when I take executive action, I want to make sure that it’s sustainable.  I want to make sure—

CHUCK TODD: But the public’s not behind you, you’re not taking it –


CHUCK TODD: That sounds a little bit like that you’re concerned the public wouldn’t support what you did—

PRESIDENT OBAMA: What– what– what I’m saying is that I’m going to act because it’s the right thing for the country.  But it’s going to be more sustainable and more effective if the public understands what the facts are on immigration, what we’ve done on– on unaccompanied children, and why it’s necessary.

And you know, the truth of the matter is– is that the politics did shift midsummer because of that problem.  I want to spend some time, even as we’re getting all our ducks in a row for the executive action, I also want to make sure that the public understands why we’re doing this, why it’s the right thing for the American people, why it’s the right thing for the American economy.

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NBC News
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