President Barack Obama announced on Thursday evening that he will be taking executive action on immigration.
Obama, who has been criticized by many in Congress for the decision, said he had given Congress a chance to act through legislation and had no choice but to use his authority.
“Today our immigration system is broken, and everyone knows it,” Obama said. “To those members of Congress who question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed I have one answer. Pass a bill.”
He explained that there would be three parts to the executive order.
First he promised to build up resources on the border to stem the flow of immigrants. His second action will be to make it easier for skilled immigrants and entrepreneurs to stay in the country. Thirdly, Obama said he would take steps to deal with the millions of undocumented immigrants already here.
“Millions of immigrants still live here illegally,” Obama said. “Let’s be honest, tracking down, rounding up and deporting millions of people isn’t realistic. It’s also not who we are as Americans.”
He continued to lay forth a policy that would allow immigrants that had entered illegally more than five years ago and had children in America to avoid deportations. He acknowledged that he did not have the power to make them citizens but that he could enact executive action that would lift the threat of deportation.
He also made it clear that his actions would not affect all immigrants, stating that it would not apply to anyone who came recently or in the future.
“I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that common-sense law,” Obama said. “We need more than politics as usual when it comes to immigration.”
The order is said to apply to nearly 4 million immigrants currently living in the U.S.