September 6, 2014 10:42 AM EDT

President Barack Obama has decided to delay taking controversial executive actions on immigration reform until after the November midterm elections, a White House official confirmed to TIME.

The decision is sure to anger immigration reform activists who have become a vocal component of the Democratic base, while taking the pressure off several vulnerable Senate Democrats who have expressed opposition to the policy move as the President’s party struggles to hold onto control of Congress’ upper chamber.

“The reality the President has had to weigh is that we’re in the midst of the political season, and because of the Republicans’ extreme politicization of this issue, the President believes it would be harmful to the policy itself and to the long-term prospects for comprehensive immigration reform to announce administrative action before the elections,” the official said, promising that Obama would act before the end of the year. The Associated Press first reported news of the delay.

The political quagmire was largely one of the President’s own creation, having decided at the end of June that congressional action on immigration reform, which had been legislatively stalled for a year, would not be passed before November. In a hastily-scheduled Rose Garden address, Obama announced on June 30 that he had tasked Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder with providing him a review of ways he could act around Congress on immigration reform.

“I expect their recommendations before the end of summer and I intend to adopt those recommendations without further delay,” Obama said.

By raising advocates’ expectations, Obama has assured himself a political backlash from his base, while promising executive action in the lame-duck session later this year may not be enough to isolate Democratic candidates from Republican attacks.

Among the actions Obama was planning was extending the so-called “deferred action” program, which currently delays removal proceedings for those who were brought to the United States illegally as children, to millions of adults who immigrated illegally. But in recent weeks White House officials have been hinting that the President would not be acting before the midterm elections, drawing ire from advocates.

On Friday, Obama told reporters at a press conference in Wales that he had just begun to receive recommendations from Johnson and Holder and planned to review them on the plane back to Washington. “I’ll be making an announcement soon,” he promised.

“I want to be very clear: My intention is, in the absence of action by Congress, I’m going to do what I can do within the legal constraints of my office—because it’s the right thing to do for the country,” Obama added.

Cesar Vargas, co-Director of the DREAM Action Coalition, an immigration reform advocacy group, issued a statement Friday calling on Obama to live up to his commitments.

“We need your leadership Mr. President,” he said. “We need you to step up where Congress has failed. No more word games. Voters, specially Latino voters, want to see immediate executive action. This is a promise you cannot break to our families, again.”

The White House official highlighted Republicans trying to “exploit the humanitarian situation at the Rio Grande Valley” this summer, when thousands of unaccompanied minors crossed into the United States from Mexico, as an example of the politicization of the issue.

Obama reached a decision on delaying his actions on Friday while returning to Washington, and began informing lawmakers and advocates.

“The President has had many conversations and consultations throughout this process – including with his Cabinet, members of Congress, stakeholders, and advocates on this issue,” the official said. “The President is confident in his authority to act, and he will before the end of the year. But again, nothing will replace Congress acting on comprehensive immigration reform and the President will keep pressing Congress to act.”

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