President Barack Obama used a primetime White House speech to tell a national audience of changes he plans to make to the U.S. immigration system.
Obama, who is frustrated by Congressional inaction on the subject, said the time had come to implement new rules to handle illegal 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,” said Obama. “But today, our immigration system is broken, and everybody knows it.”
The main changes include:
- The Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division will shift priorities to encourage law enforcement officials to focus on illegal immigrants with criminal convictions and recent illegal arrivals to the U.S.
- Illegal immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for five years or more with children born in the states can register with the government, pass a criminal background check, and pay taxes. This program is expected to impact nearly 4 million illegal immigrants.
- Also, foreign students studying in the fields of science and technology in the U.S. will have expanded visa opportunities. Also, entrepreneurs can come to the U.S. if they can demonstrate they have investors and will create domestic jobs.
The timetable for implementation of the immigration order could take some time. Several aspects of the President’s action won’t go into effect until next spring, while some could take 18 months or more to work through the rule making process.
You can access the full speech at this link.
Congressional responses were full of disappointment over Obama’s use of executive action – versus legislation – to address the problem of illegal immigration. You can read some of their comments from The Tolbert Report at this link.