John Boehner: Unilateral action on immigration would seal Obama's 'legacy of lawlessness'
Speaker of the House John Boehner listens to questions during a news conference (AFP)

By Mark Felsenthal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said on Thursday that any unilateral steps by President Barack Obama on immigration would make matters worse and add to a "legacy of lawlessness."

"No more unilateral action by the president," Boehner said at a news conference.

"If the president takes these actions, he'll be sealing the deal on his legacy of lawlessness," he said. "He'll be violating the solemn oath he made to the American people on the day of his inauguration."

Boehner said the House planned to vote Thursday on legislation that would stop Obama from expanding his 2012 action to suspend deportations of children brought to the United States before mid-2007 by their parents.

The House has passed legislation that attempted to shut down the 2012 policy, which Republicans link to the influx of children arriving at the southwestern U.S. border with Mexico.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said earlier in the day that the president is acting on his own because Boehner has refused to put to a vote an immigration reform bill that passed the Senate.

"The question for the president is, are we just going to sort of allow the country to be stuck just because congressional Republicans are blocking everything?" Earnest said in an interview on MSNBC.

"Or is the president going to use the authority that's vested in the Constitution in the executive branch to try and solve some of the problems that congressional Republicans won't allow the country to try to address?" Earnest said.

The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security are conducting a review to see what steps the president can legally take.

The president has pushed for reform that would create a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants within the United States. The Senate bill had such provisions, but Republicans in the House largely opposed them as amounting to amnesty for people who entered the country illegally.

Faced with an adversarial Congress, Obama has taken a series of unilateral actions to further his agenda. This has led Republicans to say Obama is exceeding the limits of his office. Boehner said Obama's actions were "sacrificing the integrity of our laws on the altar of political opportunism" and should be held accountable.

"The president's support is slipping and he and his party are desperate to motivate their base as we move toward the November elections," Boehner said.

(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Bill Trott and Gunna Dickson)