Why immigration reform activists believe Obama might stop deportations without Congress

Washington Examiner

"Mr. President, please use your executive order to halt deportations ...," immigration reform protester Ju Hong shouted at President Obama on Monday.

Obama reacted by reminding Hong that if he could act without Congress he would, but it was important to abide by the Constitution and respect the separation of powers.

Later Monday afternoon, Obama complained at a second event that "a lot of people have been saying this lately on every problem — which is — 'just sign an executive order, and we can pretty much do anything and basically nullify Congress.'"

But where does this idea come from? From Obama himself.

Obama used the same rhetoric to advise patience to advocates for the Dream Act, a bill creating a path to citizenship for children of illegal immigrants.

"It will be difficult, and it will take time. I know some of you wish that I could bypass Congress and change the law myself, but that's not how democracy works. Democracy is hard, but it's right," Obama said during a commencement speech at Miami-Dade College in April 2011.

By July 2011, Obama teased during a speech to La Raza that he wanted nothing more than to work without Congress.

"Believe me -- believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. I promise you. Not just on immigration reform," Obama said as the crowd laughed and applauded. "But that's not how -- that's not how our system works."

A year later, in spite of his vow to adhere to the Constitution, Obama announced in June 2012 that he would act without Congress to stop deportations for the so-called "Dreamers."

"My administration has been doing what we can without the help of Congress for more than three years now," he said to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials conference last year, "Last week we took another step. On Friday, we announced that we’re lifting the shadow of deportation from deserving young people who are brought to this country as children."

So when immigration reform activists hear Obama's rhetoric about working within the structure of the Constitution, it's easy for them to think that Obama is just paying lip service to the idea.

For protesters like Ju Hong, it's easy to believe that Obama takes matters into his own hands when it comes to immigration.

If they got him to do it before a tough re-election campaign, why wouldn't he do it again in his second term?