In a 2011 town hall with Univision, President Barack Obama said "it was not the case" that he could suspend deportations unilaterally and argued that he could not extend temporary protected status to illegal immigrants looking for economic opportunity.
When asked whether he would grant temporary protective status to students, he responded "temporary protective status historically has been used for special circumstances where you have immigrants to this country who are fleeing persecution in their countries, or there is some emergency situation in their native land that required them to come to the United States. So it would not be appropriate to use that just for a particular group that came here primarily, for example, because they were looking for economic opportunity."
He continued, "with respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed -- and I know that everybody here at Bell is studying hard so you know that we’ve got three branches of government. Congress passes the law. The executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws. And then the judiciary has to interpret the laws." And "there are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President."