President Barack Obama defended the administration’s executive actions to deport illegal immigrants Wednesday by saying they are “not designed to be punitive.”
Speaking at a campaign event in Philadelphia, the president said “no one has more to fear” than the illegal immigrant population, according to The Associated Press.
“We have a huge number of people who are not coming to this country legally, who are living here illegally, who have been here for a long time, and they’re putting our economy at risk,” he said.
“So I don’t want to create fear and worry, but I think what we’re trying to do is try to make sure that they’re deterred, that we get them out of the country.”
Obama also said the executive actions have been “effective” in stopping illegal immigrants from committing crimes.
“What we’re doing is trying to stop them from doing harm to our communities, our communities are hurting from these people who have no regard for our laws and have no respect for our culture,” he added.
“And we’re going to do whatever we have to do to make them feel like they can’t come here legally.”
The president’s immigration policy also calls for the removal of children of illegal immigrants who have committed crimes, including the rape and murder of a young girl in the U.S. in 2013.
“The fact that they are here illegally has a huge impact on their families, on their children, on the lives of the families, it has a terrible impact on our community,” Obama said Wednesday.
“It’s not an effort to get rid of them.
It’s an effort, I think, to make certain that they feel like we’re treating them fairly.”