President Barack Obama spent the early part of the week of Nov. 24 on the West Coast doing some fundraising and addressing the immigration reform debate in Congress. The most notable moment of his tour came when a heckler at one of his speeches raised the issue of deportations, and the president’s answer spoke to the deeper issues at hand.
“Use the executive order!”
During an event in San Francisco’s Chinatown, where the president spoke to a large gathering about the battle for immigration reform, he was interrupted toward the end of his remarks by a heckler. The man, an undocumented immigrant from South Korea who was unable to attend his grandfather’s recent funeral due to his immigration status, yelled for the president to use his executive order powers to halt deportations, telling him that he had the power to do so.
“Actually, I don’t,” the president replied, according to ABC News. “And that’s why we’re here.”
As security personnel moved to escort the man and some other hecklers off the premises, the president waved them off, and used the remarks as an opportunity to address his insistence on working through Congress.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Willing to compromise
The president also used the opportunity to reiterate his openness to a piece-by-piece compromise on immigration reform legislation, a process House Republicans have deemed necessary to get anything done. Using a Thanksgiving metaphor, he said that he was willing to carve up the turkey as long as it all gets done and the core principles of reform are addressed.