Two White House officials said Obama concluded that circumventing Congress through executive actions on immigration during the campaign would politicize the issue and hurt future efforts to pass a broad overhaul.
The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the president's decision before it was announced, said Obama made his decision Friday as he returned to Washington from a NATO summit in Wales.
They said Obama called a few allies from Air Force One to inform them of his decision, and that the president made more calls from the White House on Saturday.
The officials said Obama had no specific timeline to act, but that he still would take his executive steps before the end of the year.
Proponents of executive action like Frank Sharry have expressed their frustration with the White House for refusing to act. Meanwhile, skeptics of executive action (such as Mark Krikorian) have argued that the president is trying to avoid democratic accountability by not announcing his decisions on unilaterally rewriting immigration policy until after the midterms.