Obama Tells Protesters He'd Stop Deportations by Himself If He Could

By Susan Jones | November 26, 2013 | 6:24am EST

President Barack Obama speaks at a DNC fundraiser in San Francisco on Monday, Nov. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(CNSNews.com) - Illegal immigrants interrupted President Obama's speech in San Francisco Monday, telling him to use his executive authority to halt deportations. Obama said he'd do it if he could.

"Mr. President, please use your executive order to halt deportation for all 11.5 undocumented immigrants in this country right now," one protester shouted toward the end of Obama's speech on immigration reform.  The protester told the president, "We agree that we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform. At the same time, we -- you have a power to stop deportation for all..."

"Actually, I don't. And that's why we're here," Obama replied.

"Now, what you need to know, when I'm speaking as President of the United States and I come to this community, is that if in fact I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so. But we're also a nation of laws. That's part of our tradition.

"And so the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws. And what I'm proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve. But it won't be as easy as just shouting. It requires us lobbying and getting it done. (Cheers, applause.)

So the -- so for those of you who are committed to getting this done, I am going to march with you and fight with you every step of the way to make sure that we are welcoming every striving, hardworking immigrant who sees America the same way we do, as a country where no matter who you are or where you -- what you look like or where you come from, you can make it if you try. And if you're serious about making that happen, then I'm ready to work with you. (Cheers, applause.) But it is going to require work.

It is not simply a matter of us just saying we're going to violate the law. That's not our tradition.

In June 2012 -- the run-up to the presidential election -- President Obama announced that he would "lift the shadow of deportation" from young people by focusing enforcement resources on "criminals who endanger our communities rather than students who are earning their education."

The president said students who do not pose a risk to national security or public safety would be allowed to request temporary relif from deportation proceedings and apply for work permits.

He called it a "temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people."

In San Francisco on Monday, Obama hailed the nation's "wonderful process of democracy," saying it is sometimes "messy" and "hard," but that justice and truth ultimately prevail.

"But right now it's up to Republicans in the House to decide if we can move forward as a country on this (immigration reform) bill. If they don't want to see it happen, they've got to explain why. The good news is, just this past week Speaker Boehner said that he is hopeful we can made progress on immigration reform. And that is good news. I believe the speaker is sincere. I think he genuinely wants to get it done. And that's something we should be thankful for this week."

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