Sanders: I Will Bypass Congress on Immigration, Use Executive Orders

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) said he would work around Congress if he had to in order to accomplish his goals for illegal immigration.

NPR host Judy Woodruff, a co-moderator of Thursday night’s Democratic presidential debate, asked Sanders if he would go further than President Obama in using executive action on illegal immigration.

Obama has used executive orders to delay deportations and give temporary legal status to millions of illegal immigrants, unilateral actions that have drawn pushback from members of Congress and 26 states, which initiated a legal challenge to the orders that will be decided by the Supreme Court this year.

"Would you go further than that? And if so, how specifically would you do it? Should an undocumented family watching this debate tonight, say in Nevada, rest easy, not fear further deportations under a Sanders Presidency?" Woodruff asked.

"The answer is yes," Sanders said. "We've got 11 million undocumented people in this country. I've talked to the young kids, who with tears rolling down their cheeks, are scared to death that today they may or their parents may be deported."

"I agree with President Obama, who used executive orders, to protect families, because the Congress, the House was unable or refused to act. And in fact I would go further," Sanders said.

Later, Sanders said that America must pass comprehensive immigration reform, a task that would require the approval of Congress.

"Bottom line is, a path toward citizenship for 11 million undocumented people," Sanders said, "If Congress doesn't do the right thing, we use the executive orders of the president."