(NBC News) -- In an exclusive interview with Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd, President Barack Obama defended his decision to delay executive action on immigration, saying the summer’s surge of unaccompanied children at the Mexican border changed the politics of the issue.
“The truth of the matter is that the politics did shift midsummer because of that problem,” Obama said in the interview, which will air on Sunday’s Meet the Press on NBC. “I want to spend some time, even as we're getting all our ducks in a row for the executive action, I also want to make sure that the public understands why we're doing this, why it's the right thing for the American people, why it's the right thing for the American economy.”
In the sit-down with Todd, Obama rejected criticism that the postponement is merely a political tactic intended to help embattled Democrats in the months before contentious midterm elections, saying that the delay will help make new immigration policies “sustainable” when they are announced later this year.
“What I'm saying is that I'm going to act because it's the right thing for the country,” he said. “But it's going to be more sustainable and more effective if the public understands what the facts are on immigration, what we've done on unaccompanied children, and why it's necessary.”
White House officials confirmed to NBC News earlier Saturday that the president will delay any executive action on immigration until after November.