President Barack Obama speaks in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, on Aug. 1.
In a speech tonight, U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to announce a dramatic overhaul of the country's immigration system that will include measures that the president considered illegal not long ago.
The suite of executive actions, which could shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation, have been debated by many lawmakers, including the president himself.
Obama has previously said it would be a violation of the law or "difficult to defend legally" to suspend the deportation of immigrants without support from Congress. Now he seems to have reversed his opinion. Below, we've laid out five quotes from the past few years that show how Obama's thinking has changed.
At a Univision town hall meeting at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, D.C., Obama was asked whether he could grant temporary protective status to undocumented students. He answered that he couldn't. While the question (and the answer) was specific, it indicated his thoughts on the broader subject of using executive action to protect people from deportation.
The president went on to say that for him to "ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president."
The president took part in a Google Hangout in February last year and was asked what he would do to prevent more deportations until Congress passed immigration reform.
Ultimately, Obama said his hands were tied but added: "This is something that I’ve struggled with throughout my presidency."
When he appeared on Noticias Telemundo in September, 2013, Obama said he couldn't expand deportation protection beyond a group of undocumented immigrants known as "Dreamers" — those who had come to the United States before the age of 16 and who had not yet turned 31. To do so, he said, would be "ignoring the law."
Now, though, it appears the president's executive actions will remove the upper age limit requirement.
Members of the audience heckled Obama with questions about immigration reform during a speech he gave at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco last year. Many of the questions focused on why the president hadn't already acted unilaterally to change the nation's immigration system. Obama said to do so would be "violating our laws" and that he would take the "harder path" through Congress.
Though Obama has previously said that changing the immigration system by blocking deportations would not be appropriate for a president, he now says it would be wrong to not "improve the system."
Tags: Barack Obama, EXECUTIVE ACTION, IMMIGRATION REFORM, POLITICS, REPUBLICANS, U.S., UNAUTHORIZED IMMIGRANTS, US & World