Calling the United States a nation both of immigrants and of laws, President Barack Obama announced he is taking new steps to reform America’s immigration system.
In a televised address, Mr. Obama outlined a series of actions which he is authorizing under the president’s power of executive action. The first provides additional resources to stem the flow of illegal border crossings and to speed the deportation of those who do cross over.
The second step is to make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates and entrepreneurs already present in the U.S. to stay and contribute to the U.S. economy. The third step is a plan which allows millions of undocumented immigrants who are already in the United States and meet specific criteria to legally remain in the country for a set period of time:
“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.”
President Obama also made clear what the deal is not, and where it does not apply: it does not grant citizenship or the right to remain permanently or the the right to receive the same benefits citizens receive; it does not apply to anyone who has come to the U.S. recently or who may come in the future.
President Obama called his plan “a common middle ground approach”, not mass amnesty, which would be unfair to immigrants who put in the painstaking legal work to become U.S. citizens; and not mass deportation, which is contrary to the character of the United States.
“We are and always will be a nation of immigrants,” said President Obama. “We were strangers once too… What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal that all of us are created equal and all of us had the chance to make of our lives what we will… That’s the tradition we must uphold.”