President Barack Obama sought to reassure Latinos his immigration policy is for real
President Barack Obama sought to reassure Latinos his immigration policy is for real

Story highlights

President Barack Obama reassured Latino audiences his immigration action would stand

Obama outlined the legal reasoning behind his executive orders

Those who register with the government and meet the criteria "won't be deported," Obama said

(CNN) —  

Less than a month after President Barack Obama announced his executive action on immigration reform, the country’s chief executive made a concerted effort to reach out the Latino community, and assure them that his policies will not be overturned under a new administration.

In back-to-back interviews Tuesday with networks that reach Spanish-speaking audiences, the President assured viewers that there is enough public support for his policies to carry over into a new administration, making it unlikely that they will be deported.

“The American people believe that if you’ve done things the right way, then you shouldn’t be punished for it,” Obama said in an interview with Telemundo’s Jose Diaz-Balart.

“You’re not gonna see Democrats or Republicans who suggest that we’re gonna treat worse the people who did the right thing compared to those folks who don’t register, don’t go through a criminal background check and haven’t been paying their taxes,” he said.

Speaking to viewers who qualify for a path to citizenship under his executive action, the President vowed, “You can register, and you can be assured you won’t be deported.”

“We are going to make sure that families – people who are working and responsible in their communities – are not prioritized for deportation,” Obama said. “So the likelihood of their deportations are going to be much lower.”

A former constitutional law professor, the President detailed what gave him the legal authority to act on immigration now without Congress’ approval – a move he once said he didn’t have the authority to do.

“We always knew that we could reprioritize some of our enforcement powers, not to simply eliminate deportations,” Obama told Díaz-Balart. “That would be something that only Congress could do. But what we could do is change, given the limited resources we have, who we’re going after and where our resources are deployed.”

Obama also acknowledged that he asked the White House Office of Legal Counsel for guidance about how much legal authority he actually had, and with that insight, stretched his executive arm as far as it could reach.

From a political perspective, Obama echoed his State of the Union “phone and pen” rhetoric, arguing that House Speaker John Boehner’s reluctance to bring immigration reform to a vote, is what caused him to act alone.