President Obama is introduced by senior advisor David Plouffe before he… (Associated Press )
White House senior advisor David Plouffe on Sunday defended criticisms of President Obama’s announcement that the administration would cease deporting young immigrants who came to the country illegally as children.
“This is not a political move. This builds on a lot of steps we’ve already taken,” Plouffe said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“Who knows how the politics will turn out? But this decision was the right decision…. I’ve ceased making predictions on things because we’ll see how they turn out,” he added, as he reiterated Obama’s justification for changes to the government’s enforcement of immigration laws.
But how Plouffe hopes the politics will turn out was clear. Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Plouffe portrayed Obama’s presidential rival Mitt Romney as uninterested in immigration reform.
“Gov. Romney said he would veto the Dream Act.,” Plouffe said. “Gov. Romney essentially said the 11 million people ought to just go home, they ought to self-deport…. President Romney, if he is elected, is not going to fix our immigration system.”
Romney, appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation” later in the morning, refused to say whether he would continue or rescind Obama’s order
“With regards to these kids who were brought in by their parents through no fault of their own, there needs to be a long-term solution so they know what their status is,” Romney said. “This is something Congress has been working on, and I thought we were about to see some proposals brought forward by Sen. Marco Rubio and by Democrat senators, but the president jumped in and said I'm going to take this action.”
Plouffe acknowledged, as had Obama, that the president’s move wouldn’t be a “permanent fix,” but was adamant that “the only way to do that is for Congress to pass the Dream Act.” That measure would provide a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants who serve in the military or extend their educations. (Obama’s order Friday did not offer a path to citizenship but rather offered an opportunity for renewable legal status.)
Plouffe also addressed Republican arguments that Obama stepped out of bounds in declaring the policy change, and that such major alterations should be handled legislatively.
“Our attorneys, the Homeland Security attorneys, are absolutely confident this is within our authority, to use some discretion,” he said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”
Separately, Plouffe also rebuffed claims by critics that the top members of the Obama administration were involved in the leaking of national security details eventually published by the New York Times.
“This national security information is so critical for a president and his administration making the right decisions, nobody takes it more seriously than the president,” he said, adding that Obama did not declassify anything that was eventually used by journalist David Sanger.
Promising that “everyone in our administration is going to cooperate” with an investigation prompted by Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder, Plouffe would not say whether the president himself would be involved in the proceedings.