It's their fault, President Barack Obama said Monday in blaming Republicans for their inaction on immigration reform and for the escalating problems including a surge of undocumented children crossing the border from Mexico.
At a hastily scheduled Rose Garden appearance, Obama said House Speaker John Boehner told him last week that the chamber's GOP majority he leads will continue blocking a vote on a Senate-passed immigration bill.
In response, Obama said he was starting "a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own, without Congress," adding that he directed his team to recommend steps he can take this summer and that he would then act on those steps "without delay."
"The failure of House Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad for our security, is bad for our economy, is bad for our future," the President said. "America cannot wait forever for them to ask."
"Pass a bill. Solve a problem. Don't just say no on something that everybody agrees needs to be done," he said, repeating his contention that a bill would pass if Boehner allowed it to come to a vote in the House.
Conservative Republicans oppose the Senate plan passed last year with bipartisan support because it includes a pathway to legal status for immigrants living illegally in the United States.
They also fear that such a reform measure would bolster already strong Democratic support among Hispanic Americans, the nation's largest minority.
For his part, Boehner said Monday that Republicans don't trust Obama to enforce laws they might pass.
"Until that changes, it is going to be difficult to make progress on this issue," he said in a statement after Obama spoke. "The crisis at our southern border reminds us all of the critical importance of fixing our broken immigration system."
He continued, "It is sad and disappointing that -- faced with this challenge -- President Obama won't work with us, but is instead intent on going it alone with executive orders that can't and won't fix these problems."
Boehner noted that previous executive action by Obama to halt deportations of some undocumented children led to the current border crisis by "giving false hope to children and their families that if they enter the country illegally they will be allowed to stay."
Obama announced he was ordering a shift in security resources to border regions, and he promised the additional action he can take "without Congress but within his existing authorities to fix as much of our broken immigration system as we can."