On Thursday, President Obama addressed the nation with a speech on immigration reform.
"Today, our immigration system is broken, and everyone knows it."
Obama has promised to fix the immigration system. Since he took office, southern border security has been a priority, with “illegal border crossings been cut by more than half” and “the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s.”
He went on to explain how close the White House and Congress were to passing comprehensive immigration reform last summer, when the Senate passed an immigration bill, only to have the House of Representatives refuse to allow a vote. The president believes the best way to solve the problem is by working together.
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“But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as president.”
The actions President Obama announced are as follows.
First, he wants to give additional resources to our law enforcement personnel to “stem the flow” of illegal crossings.
Second, he wants to make it easier for high-skilled immigrants to “stay and contribute to our economy.”
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Third, the president will offer undocumented immigrants who have “been in America more than five years" a path to citizenship. If those people have children, American citizen or not, they can “register, pass a criminal background check and pay their fair share of taxes,” which will allow them to stay in America temporarily without the fear of deportation. If you qualify, “you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law.”
The President did make some qualifications to the third action. The deal does not apply to anyone who has come into the country recently or who might come to America in the future. “It does not grant citizenship or the right to stay here permanently.” As for criminals, “you'll be deported.”
The president response to his critics in Congress? “Pass a bill.”
He continued the speech appealing to the public who is frustrated with government gridlock, calling for compromise and common purpose.
In his final remarks, the president explained the importance of immigration and who we are as a nation. “My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too.”
Here is the full speech: