WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama defended his plan to use executive powers to implement some immigration reforms, saying in an interview broadcast on Sunday he had waited long enough for Congress to act.

Obama told congressional leaders on Friday he would try to ease some restrictions on undocumented immigrants, despite warnings from Republican leaders that such actions would “poison the well” or would be “a red flag in front of a bull.”

The meeting came after Obama’s Democratic Party was punished in midterm elections on Tuesday. Republicans seized the Senate and kept a majority in the House of Representatives, in what Obama said was a message from voters who held him responsible for how Washington worked, or didn’t.

In an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Obama said he had watched while the Senate produced a bipartisan immigration reform bill, only to have it not taken up by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Obama said he had told Boehner if he could not get it done by year’s end, the White House was going to have to take steps to improve the system.

“Everybody agrees the immigration system’s broken. And we’ve been talking about it for years now in terms of fixing it,” Obama said in the interview, according to a CBS transcript.

U.S. borders needed to be secure, the legal immigration system needed to be more efficient and there needed to be a path to legal status for the 11 million undocumented immigrants.

“We don’t have the capacity to deport 11 million people — everybody agrees on that,” he said.

Obama insisted he was not telling Republicans they had run out of time or trying to circumvent them.

“The minute they pass a bill that addresses the problems with immigration reform, I will sign it and it supersedes whatever actions I take,” Obama said in the interview.

“And I’m encouraging them to do so … on parallel track we’re going to be implementing an executive action.

“But if in fact a bill gets passed, nobody’s going to be happier than me to sign it, because that means it will be permanent rather than temporary.”

Without any changes, the government will continue to misallocate resources, deport people who should not be deported and not deport those who are dangerous, he said.

Any unilateral action promises to draw the ire of Republicans in Congress. Sen. John Barrasso, the No. 4 Republican in the Senate, told Reuters on Friday members of Congress had told Obama that would be a “toxic decision.”

“It will hurt cooperation on every issue,” Barrasso told “Fox News Sunday.”

“What the president does over the next two months is going to set the tone for the next two years.”

Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said on ABC’s “This Week” he hoped Obama would delay action “and have a real comprehensive discussion about what’s possible, because a great deal is possible on immigration reform.”

More troops in Iraq

Obama said his decision to double the number of military advisers in Iraq marked a new phase in the campaign against Islamic State and was not an indication his strategy in the region had failed.

Obama said the first phase was getting an Iraqi government in place that was inclusive and credible.

He said sending in 1,500 additional American troops also signified a shift from a defensive strategy to an offensive one. The decision was announced on Friday.

“The airstrikes have been very effective in degrading ISIL’s capabilities and slowing the advance that they were making,” Obama said, according to a CBS transcript. “Now what we need is ground troops, Iraqi ground troops, that can start pushing them back.”

The president did not rule out sending more troops back to the region. “You know, as commander in chief I’m never going to say never,” he told CBS.

But Obama said his military commanders believe fewer troops would be needed over time as coalition members join the United States in training and assisting Iraqi troops.