Taking Action on Immigration

President Obama is taking new steps to fix America’s broken immigration system.



"We didn’t raise the Statue of Liberty with her back to the world, we did it with her light shining as a beacon to the world. And whether we were Irish or Italians or Germans crossing the Atlantic, or Japanese or Chinese crossing the Pacific; whether we crossed the Rio Grande or flew here from all over the world — generations of immigrants have made this country into what it is. It’s what makes us special."

— President Obama, November 21, 2014

America’s immigration system is broken. Too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers, and there are 11 million people living in the shadows. Neither is good for the economy or the country. President Obama is eager to work with both the House and the Senate on a comprehensive solution to immigration reform, similar to the bipartisan legislation that passed the Senate in 2013.

President Obama’s push for legislation to fix our broken immigration system garnered broad bipartisan support both among the public and in the Senate and addressed all of the core problems our system faces. He spent over a year giving House Republicans room to act on the Senate bill or their own version of legislation to fix the system. Unfortunately, House Republicans refused to give the Senate bill an up-or-down vote.

That’s why the President took action to fix as much of the broken system as he could through his immigration accountability executive actions. These actions will help secure the border, prioritize felons, not families, and hold undocumented immigrants accountable by requiring them to pass a criminal background check and pay their fair share of taxes, and modernizes the legal immigration system. These are common-sense steps, but only Congress can finish the job.

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 U.S. 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.

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There are four principles to the President’s common-sense proposal:

President Obama giving a speech

Continuing to
Strengthen Border Security

The President’s proposal gives law enforcement the tools they need to make our communities safer from crime, enhances our infrastructure and technology, and strengthens our ability to remove criminals and apprehend and prosecute threats to our national security.

nationalization ceremony

Streamlining legal immigration

Legal immigration should be simple and efficient. The President’s proposal provides visas to foreign entrepreneurs looking to start businesses here, helps the most promising foreign graduate students in science and math stay in this country after graduation, and reunites families in a timely and humane manner.

Rose Garden POTUS address

Earned Citizenship

The President’s proposal provides undocumented immigrants with a legal way to earn citizenship so they can come out of the shadows. It holds them accountable by requiring they pass background checks, pay taxes and a penalty, go to the back of the line, and learn English. It requires everyone to play by the same rules.

nationalization ceremony

Cracking Down on Employers
Hiring Undocumented Workers

The President’s proposal is designed to stop businesses from exploiting the system by knowingly hiring undocumented workers. It holds these companies accountable, and gives employers who want to play by the rules a reliable way to verify that their employees are here legally.

Immigration Points

To learn more about the President’s efforts to advance immigration reform, read the Immigration Blueprint [PDF].

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