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Live Updates: Obama Announces Executive Amnesty for Illegals

Live Updates: Obama Announces Executive Amnesty for Illegals

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On Thursday evening, President Barack Obama will deliver a White House address announcing his executive action that will give nearly five million illegal immigrants temporary work permits and amnesty. The White House is spinning that Obama’s unilateral action is not “amnesty” and that it will “ensure that everyone plays by the same rules,” according to a fact sheet and excerpts of Obama’s speech that have been released. 

Though Obama is rewarding illegal immigrants who entered the country unlawfully with his executive amnesty, the White House, in its fact sheet below, declares that Obama’s executive action will “ensure that everyone plays by the same rules.”

Stay tuned to Breitbart News for live updates (transcript of Obama’s speech at end).

Jeb Bush pushes for comprehensive amnesty legislation:

“President Obama’s ill-advised unilateral action on illegal immigration undermines all efforts to forge a permanent solution to this crisis. Action must come in the form of bipartisan comprehensive reform passed through Congress. President Obama has once again put divisive and manipulative politics before the sober leadership and sound laws required of an exceptional nation. It is time for Republican leaders in Congress to act. We must demonstrate to Americans we are the Party that will tackle serious challenges and build broad-based consensus to achieve meaningful reforms for our citizens and our future.”

From Matt Boyle: Democrats Not Happy with Obama Executive Amnesty

CNN’s Jake Tapper says several Senate Democrats are not happy with Obama’s executive amnesty order. Tapper said he’s gotten “expressions of concern about POTUS action from Dems” including Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Joe Manchin (D-WV). Sen. Angus King (I-ME), an independent who caucuses with Democrats, also expressed opposition to Obama’s amnesty order.
 
Before the election, Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Al Franken (D-MN), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) all came out against it too. This number of Democrats and independents is enough to overcome the 60-vote threshold for cloture to block Obama’s executive amnesty with funding orders, if the Democrats who said they’re against it are serious.

From Caroline May: Texas Attorney General and Governor-Elect Greg Abbott said Thursday in a statement he is prepared to move forward with a legal challenge against President Obama’s executive amnesty:

“President Obama has circumvented Congress and deliberately bypassed the will of the American people, eroding the very foundation of our nation’s Constitution and bestowing a legacy of lawlessness. Texans have witnessed firsthand the costs and consequences caused by President Obama’s dictatorial immigration policy and now we must work together toward a solution in fixing our broken immigration system. Following tonight’s pronouncement, I am prepared to immediately challenge President Obama in court, securing our state’s sovereignty and guaranteeing the rule of law as it was intended under the Constitution.”

Pro-Amnesty Advocates Chanting ‘Gracias President Obama’ & ‘Si Se Pudo (Yes We Could)’ in from of White House:

According to pool reports, the pro-amnesty advocates are “holding American signs and flags that say ‘Gracias President Obama'” and ‘some are also holding ‘United We Dream’ signs.'” 

DREAMers to Obama: Executive Amnesty ‘Not Big Enough’:

“While we know that many will benefit from this executive action, the fight is far from over,” the pro-amnesty DRM Action group wrote on Facebook after Obama’s executive amnesty speech. “There is still many out there who will be left out including the parents of DACA recipient children. #notbigenoughObama”

DREAMers ‘ALL-IN’ on Executive Amnesty:

Illegal Immigrants Already Being Lured by Obama’s Executive Amnesty

From Caroline May: Pro-Amnesty Group: Obama Executive Amnesty Not Enough 

The executive director of the pro-amnesty group Presente.org, Arturo Carmona, argued that while the executive orders President Obama announced Thursday night are a step forward, they are not enough:
 
“Make no mistake– Democrats still have a long way to go to win back the trust and support of Latinos before 2016, but today’s announcement was an important step forward. This is a major victory for the millions of families who will no longer have to live with the daily fear of being torn apart. It’s also a major vindication for undocumented immigrants and grassroot leaders who put everything on the line and dared to believe that we could hold President Obama and the Democrats to a higher bar when many in DC said it was impossible. 
 
“Today’s announcement is only a partial solution: 7 million immigrants were left out of today’s proposal all together, ensuring more deportations, separated families, and the continuation of detention for nearly 34,000 immigrants, including children, as a result of a profit-generating bed mandate for private prisons. On top of all of that, border and immigrant communities are being terrorized on the border every day, facing violence and outright murder. This militarization of our border must end.”
 
“Today marks a major step forward to repairing the damaged relationship between Latinos and Democrats, and we hope it signals a new era in which both parties work harder to end the attacks on immigrant and Latino lives.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL): Obama ‘Endangering Our Entire Constitutional Order’:

“President Obama’s executive amnesty violates the laws Congress has passed in order to create and implement laws Congress has refused to pass. The President is providing an estimated 5 million illegal immigrants with social security numbers, photo IDs and work permits–allowing them to now take jobs directly from struggling Americans during a time of record immigration, low wages, and high joblessness. 
 
This amnesty plan was rejected by the American people’s Congress.  By refusing to carry out the laws of the United States in order to make his own, the President is endangering our entire Constitutional order. 
 
The President’s plan will apparently also allow many illegal immigrants to receive green cards and become legal permanent residents–meaning they can access almost all U.S. welfare programs, have lifetime work authorization, obtain citizenship, and sponsor foreign relatives to join them in the U.S.
 
Law enforcement has warned this unprecedented amnesty will unleash a ‘tidal wave’ of new illegal immigration flooding into American neighborhoods at taxpayers’ expense.
 
The President’s plan also calls for boosting foreign worker programs for IT companies that experts tell us displace U.S. workers and keep wages low.
 
The President’s unconstitutional action is a direct threat to our Republican system of government and will have catastrophic consequences for the American people.  It must be stopped.  And the way to stop it is by using Congress’ power of the purse.
 
The House should send the Senate a government funding bill which ensures no funds can be spent for this unlawful purpose.  If Reid’s Senate Democrats vote to surrender their own institution to an imperial dictate and block the measure, then the House should send a short-term funding measure so the new GOP majority can be sworn in and pass a funding bill with the needed language.
 
Congress has no higher duty than to protect the American people and our Constitution. The President’s action is a threat to every working person in this country–their jobs, wages, dreams, hopes and futures. For years, the American people have begged and pleaded for a lawful system of immigration that serves the nation and makes us proud–but the politicians have refused, refused, refused.  
 
It is time to stand strong for the American people. It is time to champion the interests of those constantly neglected on the question of immigration: the men and women and children we represent–the citizens of this country to whom we owe our ultimate allegiance.  Every American must ask their Senator where they stand.”

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus: ‘The Constitution does not grant the President the power to act as a one-man legislature when he disagrees with Congress and with voters’:

“We are a nation of immigrants, and we are also a nation of laws and limited executive power. The President repeatedly said he did not have the authority to take this action. We agreed with the President when he said, ‘his notion that I can just change the laws unilaterally is just not true.’ We wish he had kept his word to the American people. The Constitution does not grant the President the power to act as a one-man legislature when he disagrees with Congress and with voters. 
 
“The last time the President issued a politically motivated executive order to change our immigration laws, he precipitated a crisis at our border, leaving thousands of children at risk and ripping apart the families he claims to want to protect. Granting amnesty does not secure our borders. Sadly, rather than trying to solve our country’s immigration problems, the President’s actions are intended to poison the legislative process at a time when he should be working to bring Americans together. 
 
“If he believed that his actions were urgent and that he had the constitutional authority all along, why did he wait six years into his presidency to act? If he believed he was doing the will of the American people and acting in the best interests of American workers and those waiting in line to become Americans, why did he wait until after this last election?
 
“I am confident that the Republican Congress will do everything within their power to uphold the Constitution. The American people rejected the administration’s policies during the midterms; they will do so again in 2016.”

From Matt Boyle: Mike Lee: Obama’s Amnesty Is ‘Desperate’
 
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), the incoming chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, said in statement that Obama’s executive amnesty is “desperate” and ignores election results and usurps the legislative process. Lee called on Democrats to join Republicans in an effort in Congress to block Obama’s actions.
 
“In a desperate attempt to remain relevant, the President has decided to defy the American people, ignore the election results, and usurp the legislative process,” Lee said. “This act demonstrates he respects neither election outcomes, nor the rule of law.  It will make the humanitarian crisis at the border worse, and could potentially create a constitutional crisis within our republic. Congress must respond to restore the proper checks and balances to our constitutional order, and it must do so quickly and forcefully. I hope and expect there are a number of Democrats who are tired of being asked to protect the President, often at great political cost. It’s time for them to stand with the American people.”

Rep. Steve King (R-IA), on CNN: ‘Sinking feeling in My Stomach’

King mentioned that Obama has said 22 times that he does not have the power to enact an executive amnesty and “has no constitutional authority to do this.” 

“What about some compassion for the rule of law and for the constitution?” he asked. King said Congress can cut off funding, censure Obama, or even pass a resolution of disapproval. 

Ted Cruz, on Facebook: Obama’s Executive Amnesty ‘Unconstitutional and in Defiance of the American People’

Moments ago, President Obama announced he would unilaterally grant amnesty to millions of people who have come to our country illegally.

I have one question: Why is President Obama making it easier for immigrants to come to our nation illegally rather than legally?

His actions are not only unconstitutional and in defiance of the American people who said they did not want amnesty in the 2014 elections, but they are also unfair to every immigrant who has come to our nation legally.

We are all the sons and daughters of immigrants who dreamed of opportunity in a nation where if you worked hard and played by the rules, you could achieve anything.

We can’t let one President abandon that dream for us all:www.stopobamasamnesty.com

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX): Obama “Declaring War on the American People and our Democracy’

“The president knows that his executive amnesty is not what the American people want, and it is not what Congress wants. That is why he delayed making this announcement until after this November’s election,” Smith said. “Some have said that the actions he is taking this week equal a declaration of war on Republicans. I believe he is actually declaring war on the American people and our democracy.”

He added that Obama “has put the interests of an extreme wing of his party above the interests of American workers.”

Newt Gingrich: Elites Underestimate Anger at Lack of Border Security

On CNN, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich mentioned that voters in progressive Oregon overwhelmingly rejected a measure that would give driver’s licenses to illegals and said “elites really underestimate how deeply” the country is disgusted with the lack of border security and Obama defying the will of the people.

Former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney: Executive Amnesty ‘Big Risk’ for Obama, Will Create ‘Major Conflict’ with Congress

From Matt Boyle: Speaker Boehner To Obama: You Just Broke Democracy: 

House Speaker John Boehner said Obama just broke democracy. 
 
“The American people want both parties to focus on solving problems together; they don’t support unilateral action from a president who is more interested in partisan politics than working with the people’s elected representatives,” Boehner said in a statement. “That is not how American democracy works. Not long ago, President Obama said the unilateral action he just announced was ‘not an option’ and claimed he’d already ‘done everything that I can on my own.’ He said it would lead to a ‘surge in more illegal immigration.’ He said he was ‘not a king’ and ‘not the emperor’ and that he was ‘bound by the Constitution.’  He said an action like this would exceed his authority and be ‘difficult to justify legally.’ He may have changed his position, but that doesn’t change the Constitution.”

Obama Dismisses Concerns Executive Amnesty, Work Permits for Illegals Will Hurt American Workers:

Obama concedes that “we don’t like the notion that anyone might get a free pass to American citizenship.” He also dismissed concerns of those who believe that granting amnesty to illegal immigrants “will change the very fabric of who we are, or take our jobs, or stick it to middle-class families at a time when they already feel like they’ve gotten the raw end of the deal for over a decade.”

Obama claimed he heard those concerns, but enacting his executive amnesty anyway because, according to Obama, “thats not what these steps would do.” 

From Matt Boyle: Obama argues that his executive amnesty actions are not “amnesty.”

“I know some of the critics of this action call it amnesty,” Obama said. “Well, it’s not. Amnesty is the immigration system we have today – millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules, while politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time.”

“That’s the real amnesty – leaving this broken system the way it is,” Obama added. “Mass amnesty would be unfair. Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character. What I’m describing is accountability – a commonsense, middle ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.”

From Matt Boyle: Charles Krauthammer immediately post-speech: “I find the president’s audacity here rather remarkable.”

From Joel Pollak: NO MENTION OF ‘CONSTITUTION’ IN OBAMA’S AMNESTY SPEECH

In declaring his executive amnesty on Thursday evening, President Barack Obama did not use the word “Constitution” once. He cited the supposed precedent of previous executive orders by earlier presidents, and he spoke about law enforcement, but he never once showed how the actions he proposed to take are constitutional.

Read more here

From Charlie Spiering: President Obama specifically brought his daughters into the conversation on amnesty:

“I’ve seen the courage of students who, except for the circumstances of their birth, are as American as Malia or Sasha; students who bravely come out as undocumented in hopes they could make a difference in a country they love,” he said.

From Charlie Spiering: Obama Cites Bible to Support Executive Amnesty:

Obama cited the Bible during his speech, reaching out to people of faith to support his executive decision: “Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger we were strangers once too”

Obama on Whether His Executive Amnesty Is Amnesty: ‘It’s Not’

Obama says amnesty is the “immigration system we have today.”

“Mass amnesty would be unfair. Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character,” he said. “What I’m describing is accountability–a commonsense, middle ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.”

Obama says that tracking down and deporting millions of illegals is not realistic 

Obama Announces Executive Actions, then concedes, “we’re a nation of laws” and Americans expect those in this country to “play by the rules.” 

Obama gives illegals a “deal”: Those who meet background checks and pay back taxes can get temporary amnesty. He says this “deal does not apply to anyone who has come to this country recently or who may come to america illegally in the future.” Critics, though, have said that Obama’s amnesty will lure more illegal immigrants to America. 

Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle: National Review’s Andrew McCarthy says that Obama’s White House is playing fast and loose with legal language in an Orwellian way.

McCarthy cites the first line of the document that leaked by the White House to pro-amnesty activists which reads: “Millions of undocumented immigrants who live in the shadows but want to play by the rules and pay taxes have no way to correct their immigration status under the law.” McCarthy says the Obama White House is contorting legal language.

“First, there is nothing incorrect about the way our law defines the illegal immigrants’ status,” McCarthy wrote. “They are illegal – i.e., their presence in the United States is in defiance of our laws. That is not a mistaken categorization that needs to be corrected, nor is the illegality bleached away by referring to the aliens as ‘undocumented.’ The law is perfectly clear and the aliens are in violation of it. They are not seeking a correction of their status; they are seeking a change in the law. Even if we concede for argument’s sake that the law should be changed, only Congress can do that. President Obama has no power to change the law – and he doesn’t acquire such power by pretending that we are talking about a ‘correction’ rather than newly enacted law.”

–Matt Boyle

At 8:02 PM EST, Obama reiterates that “our immigration system is broken” and says everyone takes offense at those living in America without taking on the responsibilities of living in America. Obama claims that “undocumented immigrants” living in the shadows want to take on those responsibilities but cannot.

Obama’s Speech, as Prepared for Delivery: 

My fellow Americans, tonight, I’d like to talk with you about immigration.

For more than 200 years, our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations. It’s kept us youthful, dynamic, and entrepreneurial. It has shaped our character as a people with limitless possibilities – people not trapped by our past, but able to remake ourselves as we choose.

But today, our immigration system is broken, and everybody knows it. 

Families who enter our country the right way and play by the rules watch others flout the rules. Business owners who offer their workers good wages and benefits see the competition exploit undocumented immigrants by paying them far less. All of us take offense to anyone who reaps the rewards of living in America without taking on the responsibilities of living in America. And undocumented immigrants who desperately want to embrace those responsibilities see little option but to remain in the shadows, or risk their families being torn apart. 

It’s been this way for decades. And for decades, we haven’t done much about it.

When I took office, I committed to fixing this broken immigration system. And I began by doing what I could to secure our borders. Today, we have more agents and technology deployed to secure our southern border than at any time in our history. And over the past six years, illegal border crossings have been cut by more than half. Although this summer, there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children being apprehended at our border, the number of such children is now actually lower than it’s been in nearly two years. Overall, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s. Those are the facts.

Meanwhile, I worked with Congress on a comprehensive fix, and last year, 68 Democrats, Republicans, and Independents came together to pass a bipartisan bill in the Senate. It wasn’t perfect. It was a compromise, but it reflected common sense. It would have doubled the number of border patrol agents, while giving undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship if they paid a fine, started paying their taxes, and went to the back of the line. And independent experts said that it would help grow our economy and shrink our deficits. 

Had the House of Representatives allowed that kind of a bill a simple yes-or-no vote, it would have passed with support from both parties, and today it would be the law. But for a year and a half now, Republican leaders in the House have refused to allow that simple vote.

Now, I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law. But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President – the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican Presidents before me – that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just.

Tonight, I am announcing those actions.

First, we’ll build on our progress at the border with additional resources for our law enforcement personnel so that they can stem the flow of illegal crossings, and speed the return of those who do cross over.

Second, I will make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders have proposed.

Third, we’ll take steps to deal responsibly with the millions of undocumented immigrants who already live in our country.

I want to say more about this third issue, because it generates the most passion and controversy. Even as we are a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of laws. Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, and I believe that they must be held accountable – especially those who may be dangerous. That’s why, over the past six years, deportations of criminals are up 80 percent. And that’s why we’re going to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security. Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mother who’s working hard to provide for her kids. We’ll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day. 

But even as we focus on deporting criminals, the fact is, millions of immigrants – in every state, of every race and nationality – will still live here illegally. And let’s be honest – tracking down, rounding up, and deporting millions of people isn’t realistic. Anyone who suggests otherwise isn’t being straight with you. It’s also not who we are as Americans. After all, most of these immigrants have been here a long time. They work hard, often in tough, low-paying jobs. They support their families. They worship at our churches. Many of their kids are American-born or spent most of their lives here, and their hopes, dreams, and patriotism are just like ours. 

As my predecessor, President Bush, once put it: “They are a part of American life.”

Now here’s the thing: we expect people who live in this country to play by the rules. We expect that those who cut the line will not be unfairly rewarded. So we’re going to offer the following deal: If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes – you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily, without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law.

That’s what this deal is. Now let’s be clear about what it isn’t. This deal does not apply to anyone who has come to this country recently. It does not apply to anyone who might come to America illegally in the future. It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive – only Congress can do that. All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you. 

I know some of the critics of this action call it amnesty. Well, it’s not. Amnesty is the immigration system we have today – millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules, while politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time. 

That’s the real amnesty – leaving this broken system the way it is. Mass amnesty would be unfair. Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character. What I’m describing is accountability – a commonsense, middle ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.

The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican President and every single Democratic President for the past half century. And to those Members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill. I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution. And the day I sign that bill into law, the actions I take will no longer be necessary. Meanwhile, don’t let a disagreement over a single issue be a dealbreaker on every issue. That’s not how our democracy works, and Congress certainly shouldn’t shut down our government again just because we disagree on this. Americans are tired of gridlock. What our country needs from us right now is a common purpose – a higher purpose.

Most Americans support the types of reforms I’ve talked about tonight. But I understand the disagreements held by many of you at home. Millions of us, myself included, go back generations in this country, with ancestors who put in the painstaking work to become citizens. So we don’t like the notion that anyone might get a free pass to American citizenship. I know that some worry immigration will change the very fabric of who we are, or take our jobs, or stick it to middle-class families at a time when they already feel like they’ve gotten the raw end of the deal for over a decade. I hear these concerns. But that’s not what these steps would do. Our history and the facts show that immigrants are a net plus for our economy and our society. And I believe it’s important that all of us have this debate without impugning each other’s character.

Because for all the back-and-forth of Washington, we have to remember that this debate is about something bigger. It’s about who we are as a country, and who we want to be for future generations.

Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law? Or are we a nation that gives them a chance to make amends, take responsibility, and give their kids a better future?

Are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms? Or are we a nation that values families, and works to keep them together?

Are we a nation that educates the world’s best and brightest in our universities, only to send them home to create businesses in countries that compete against us? Or are we a nation that encourages them to stay and create jobs, businesses, and industries right here in America?

That’s what this debate is all about. We need more than politics as usual when it comes to immigration; we need reasoned, thoughtful, compassionate debate that focuses on our hopes, not our fears.

I know the politics of this issue are tough. But let me tell you why I have come to feel so strongly about it. Over the past few years, I have seen the determination of immigrant fathers who worked two or three jobs, without taking a dime from the government, and at risk at any moment of losing it all, just to build a better life for their kids. I’ve seen the heartbreak and anxiety of children whose mothers might be taken away from them just because they didn’t have the right papers. I’ve seen the courage of students who, except for the circumstances of their birth, are as American as Malia or Sasha; students who bravely come out as undocumented in hopes they could make a difference in a country they love. These people – our neighbors, our classmates, our friends – they did not come here in search of a free ride or an easy life. They came to work, and study, and serve in our military, and above all, contribute to America’s success.

Tomorrow, I’ll travel to Las Vegas and meet with some of these students, including a young woman named Astrid Silva. Astrid was brought to America when she was four years old. Her only possessions were a cross, her doll, and the frilly dress she had on. When she started school, she didn’t speak any English. She caught up to the other kids by reading newspapers and watching PBS, and became a good student. Her father worked in landscaping. Her mother cleaned other people’s homes. They wouldn’t let Astrid apply to a technology magnet school for fear the paperwork would out her as an undocumented immigrant – so she applied behind their back and got in. Still, she mostly lived in the shadows – until her grandmother, who visited every year from Mexico, passed away, and she couldn’t travel to the funeral without risk of being found out and deported. It was around that time she decided to begin advocating for herself and others like her, and today, Astrid Silva is a college student working on her third degree.

Are we a nation that kicks out a striving, hopeful immigrant like Astrid – or are we a nation that finds a way to welcome her in?

Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger – we were strangers once, too.

My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too. And whether our forebears were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in, and taught them that to be an American is about something more than what we look like, or what our last names are, or how we worship. What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal – that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will.

That’s the country our parents and grandparents and generations before them built for us. That’s the tradition we must uphold. That’s the legacy we must leave for those who are yet to come.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless this country we love.

The White House’s Fact Sheet on Obama’s “Immigration Accountability Executive Action”:

The President’s Immigration Accountability Executive Actions will help secure the border, hold nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants accountable, and ensure that everyone plays by the same rules.  Acting within his legal authority, the President is taking an important step to fix our broken immigration system.
 
These executive actions crack down on illegal immigration at the border, prioritize deporting felons not families, and require certain undocumented immigrants to pass a criminal background check and pay their fair share of taxes as they register to temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation.
 
These are common sense steps, but only Congress can finish the job. As the President acts, he’ll continue to work with Congress on a comprehensive, bipartisan bill–like the one passed by the Senate more than a year ago–that can replace these actions and fix the whole system.
 
Three critical elements of the President’s executive actions are:

·         Cracking Down on Illegal Immigration at the Border:  The President’s actions increase the chances that anyone attempting to cross the border illegally will be caught and sent back.  Continuing the surge of resources that effectively reduced the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border illegally this summer, the President’s actions will also centralize border security command-and-control to continue to crack down on illegal immigration. 

·         Deporting Felons, Not Families: The President’s actions focus on the deportation of people who threaten national security and public safety. He has directed immigration enforcement to place anyone suspected of terrorism, violent criminals, gang members, and recent border crossers at the top of the deportation priority list.

·         Accountability – Criminal Background Checks and Taxes:  The President is also acting to hold accountable those undocumented immigrants who have lived in the US for more than five years and are parents of U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents.  By registering and passing criminal and national security background checks, millions of undocumented immigrants will start paying their fair share of taxes and temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation for three years at a time.

The President’s actions will also streamline legal immigration to boost our economy and will promote naturalization for those who qualify. 

For more than a half century, every president–Democratic or Republican–has used his legal authority to act on immigration.  President Obama is now taking another commonsense step.  As the Administration implements these executive actions, Congress should finish the job by passing a bill like the bipartisan Senate bill that: continues to strengthen border security by adding 20,000 more Border Patrol agents; cracks down on companies who hire undocumented workers; creates an earned path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who pay a fine and taxes, pass a background check, learn English and go to the back of the line; and boosts our economy and keeps families together by cutting red tape to simplify our legal immigration process.

CRACKING DOWN ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION AT THE BORDER
 
Under the Obama Administration, the resources that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) dedicates to security at the Southwest border are at an all-time high.  Today, there are 3,000 additional Border Patrol agents along the Southwest Border and our border fencing, unmanned aircraft surveillance systems, and ground surveillance systems have more than doubled since 2008. Taken as a whole, the additional boots on the ground, technology, and resources provided in the last six years represent the most serious and sustained effort to secure our border in our Nation’s history, cutting illegal border crossings by more than half.
 
And this effort is producing results. From 1990 to 2007, the population of undocumented individuals in the United States grew from 3.5 million to 11 million people.  Since then, the size of the undocumented population has stopped growing for the first time in decades. Border apprehensions–a key indicator of border security– are at their lowest level since the 1970s.  This past summer, the President and the entire Administration responded to the influx of unaccompanied children with an aggressive, coordinated Federal response focused on heightened deterrence, enhanced enforcement, stronger foreign cooperation, and greater capacity for Federal agencies to ensure that our border remains secure.  As a result, the number of unaccompanied children attempting to cross the Southwest border has declined precipitously, and the Administration continues to focus its resources to prevent a similar situation from developing in the future. 
 
To build on these efforts and to ensure that our limited enforcement resources are used effectively, the President has announced the following actions:
·         Shifting resources to the border and recent border crossers. Over the summer, DHS sent hundreds of Border Patrol agents and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel to the Southwest border, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) reordered dockets in immigration courts to prioritize removal cases of recent border crossers.  This continued focus will help keep our borders safe and secure.  In addition, Secretary Johnson is announcing a new Southern Border and Approaches Campaign Plan which will strengthen the efforts of the agencies who work to keep our border secure.  And by establishing clearer priorities for interior enforcement, DHS is increasing the likelihood that people attempting to cross the border illegally will be apprehended and sent back.
 
·         Streamlining the immigration court process. DOJ is announcing a package of immigration court reforms that will address the backlog of pending cases by working with DHS to more quickly adjudicate cases of individuals who meet new DHS-wide enforcement priorities and close cases of individuals who are low priorities. DOJ will also pursue regulations that adopt best practices for court systems to use limited court hearing time as efficiently as possible.
 
·         Protecting victims of crime and human trafficking as well as workers.  The Department of Labor (DOL) is expanding and strengthening immigration options for victims of crimes (U visas) and trafficking (T visas) who cooperate in government investigations.  An interagency working group will also explore ways to ensure that workers can avail themselves of their labor and employment rights without fear of retaliation.

DEPORTING FELONS, NOT FAMILIES
 
By setting priorities and focusing its enforcement resources, the Obama Administration has already increased the removal of criminals by more than 80%.  These actions build on that strong record by:
·         Focusing on the removal of national security, border security, and public safety threats.  To better focus on the priorities that matter, Secretary Johnson is issuing a new DHS-wide memorandum that makes clear that the government’s enforcement activity should be focused on national security threats, serious criminals, and recent border crossers.  DHS will direct all of its enforcement resources at pursuing these highest priorities for removal.
 
·         Implementing a new Priority Enforcement Program. Effectively identifying and removing criminals in state and local jails is a critical goal but it must be done in a way that sustains the community’s trust.  To address concerns from Governors, Mayors, law enforcement and community leaders which have undermined cooperation with DHS, Secretary Johnson is replacing the existing Secure Communities program with a new Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) to remove those convicted of criminal offenses.  DHS will continue to rely on biometric data to verify individuals who are enforcement priorities, and they will also work with DOJ’s Bureau of Prisons to identify and remove federal criminals serving time as soon as possible.
 
ACCOUNTABILITY – CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS AND TAXES
 
Every Democratic and Republican president since Dwight Eisenhower has taken executive action on immigration.  Consistent with this long history, DHS will expand the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to include more immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.  DHS will also create a new deferred action program for people who are parents of U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) and have lived in the United States for five years or longer if they register, pass a background check and pay taxes. 
 
The President is taking the following actions to hold accountable certain undocumented immigrants:
·         Creating a mechanism that requires certain undocumented immigrants to pass a background check to make sure that they start paying their fair share in taxes. In order to promote public safety, DHS is establishing a new deferred action program for parents of U.S. Citizens or LPRs who are not enforcement priorities and have been in the country for more than 5 years.  Individuals will have the opportunity to request temporary relief from deportation and work authorization for three years at a time if they come forward and register, submit biometric data, pass background checks, pay fees, and show that their child was born before the date of this announcement.  By providing individuals with an opportunity to come out of the shadows and work legally, we will also help crack down on companies who hired undocumented workers, which undermines the wages of all workers, and ensure that individuals are playing by the rules and paying their fair share of taxes.
 
·         Expanding DACA to cover additional DREAMers. Under the initial DACA program, young people who had been in the U.S. for at least five years, came as children, and met specific education and public safety criteria were eligible for temporary relief from deportation so long as they were born after 1981 and entered the country before June 15, 2007.  DHS is expanding DACA so that individuals who were brought to this country as children can apply if they entered before January 1, 2010, regardless of how old they are today.  Going forward, DACA relief will also be granted for three years.
 
The President’s actions will also streamline legal immigration to boost our economy and promote naturalization by:
·         Providing portable work authorization for high-skilled workers awaiting LPR status and their spouses.  Under the current system, employees with approved LPR applications often wait many years for their visa to become available.  DHS will make regulatory changes to allow these workers to move or change jobs more easily.  DHS is finalizing new rules to give certain H-1B spouses employment authorization as long as the H-1B spouse has an approved LPR application.
·         Enhancing options for foreign entrepreneurs.  DHS will expand immigration options for foreign entrepreneurs who meet certain criteria for creating jobs, attracting investment, and generating revenue in the U.S., to ensure that our system encourages them to grow our economy.  The criteria will include income thresholds so that these individuals are not eligible for certain public benefits like welfare or tax credits under the Affordable Care Act.
·         Strengthening and extending on-the-job training for STEM graduates of U.S universities. In order to strengthen educational experiences of foreign students studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at U.S. universities, DHS will propose changes to expand and extend the use of the existing Optional Practical Training (OPT) program and require stronger ties between OPT students and their colleges and universities following graduation.
·         Streamlining the process for foreign workers and their employers, while protecting American workers. DHS will clarify its guidance on temporary L-1 visas for foreign workers who transfer from a company’s foreign office to its U.S. office. DOL will take regulatory action to modernize the labor market test that is required of employers that sponsor foreign workers for immigrant visas while ensuring that American workers are protected.
·         Reducing family separation for those waiting to obtain LPR status. Due to barriers in our system, U.S. citizens and LPRs are often separated for years from their immediate relatives, while they wait to obtain their LPR status. To reduce the time these individuals are separated, DHS will expand an existing program that allows certain individuals to apply for a provisional waiver for certain violations before departing the United States to attend visa interviews.
·         Ensuring that individuals with lawful status can travel to their countries of origin. DHS will clarify its guidance to provide greater assurance to individuals with a pending LPR application or certain temporary status permission to travel abroad with advance permission (“parole”).
·         Issuing a Presidential Memorandum on visa modernization. There are many ways in which our legal immigration system can be modernized to reduce government costs, eliminate redundant systems, reduce burdens on employers and families, and eliminate fraud. The President is issuing a Memorandum directing an interagency group to recommend areas for improvement.
·         Creating a White House Task Force on New Americans. The President is creating a White House Task Force on New Americans to create a federal strategy on immigrant integration.
·         Promoting Citizenship Public Awareness: DHS will launch a comprehensive citizenship awareness media campaign in the 10 states that are home to 75 percent of the overall LPR population. USCIS will also expand options for paying naturalization fees and explore additional measures to expand accessibility, including studying potential partial fee waiver for qualified individuals.
·         Ensuring U.S. Citizens Can Serve: To further our military’s needs and support recruitment efforts, DHS will expand an existing policy to provide relief to spouses and children of U.S. citizens seeking to enlist in the military, consistent with a request made by the Department of Defense


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