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Moving forward to fix our broken immigration system

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Our immigration system has been broken for decades. Our country deeply values fairness, but our immigration system has become unfair to businesses, workers and families alike. 

That’s something I’ve been trying to change as president. We have focused on securing our borders, and today the resources that the Department of Homeland Security dedicates to the southwest border are at an all-time high. Since I took office, apprehensions at the border — a key measure of illegal crossings — are at their lowest level since the 1970s, and the number of undocumented individuals living in the U.S. has stopped growing for the first time in decades. 

{mosads}We also worked with the last Congress on a comprehensive fix to our broken immigration system. Sixty-eight Republicans, Democrats and Independents passed a common-sense bill in the Senate to reform our immigration system while helping to grow our economy and shrink our deficits. Yet for more than a year and a half, Republicans in the House kept that bipartisan bill from reaching my desk. 

In 2012, I took an initial step to help hundreds of thousands of “Dreamers” — young people who were brought to this country as children — live and work in the country they call home. And late last year, in the face of congressional Republicans’ continued refusal to act, I took new common-sense steps within my authority to fix as much of our broken immigration system as possible. The steps I announced will help us secure the border, prioritize scarce resources, and hold millions of undocumented immigrants accountable by requiring them to pass background checks and pay taxes in order to have a chance to temporarily remain here without fear of deportation. 

These steps are good for our economy, for our families and for our country. They are also the kinds of steps taken by every Republican and Democratic president for the past half-century. They are consistent with the laws passed by Congress and with rulings of the Supreme Court. 

Understandably, however, much recent attention has focused on a single court decision in Texas in response to a partisan lawsuit that delays some of these lawful, common-sense steps. To those who are affected and disturbed by this ruling, I share your concerns. To those who have questions, the Department of Homeland Security will continue to provide information. 

But make no mistake, I disagree with this judge’s ruling. Just yesterday, the Department of Justice asked the court for an emergency stay of this misguided decision, and it has already filed a notice of appeal. My administration will fight this ruling with every tool at our disposal, and I have full confidence that these actions will ultimately be upheld. 

In the meantime, it’s important to make clear what the Texas court’s ruling does and does not do. While the decision temporarily prevents my administration from accepting individuals’ requests for relief under the new deferred action program announced last November, it does not impact the original 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program offering relief from deportation to young Dreamers. Those who became eligible to seek temporary relief under the 2012 policy can still submit an initial or renewal request. And the majority of the steps I took last year will continue moving forward. For example, immigration agents will continue to refocus our limited enforcement resources on felons, not families. 

I am confident that all the steps I’ve taken on my own to fix our broken immigration system will eventually be implemented. But I also continue to believe that these steps are no substitute for congressional action. It was my hope that a new, Republican-led Congress would seek to govern responsibly by supporting common-sense solutions to one of our country’s greatest challenges, just like President George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) tried to nearly a decade ago. Instead, we’ve seen a series of votes to deport Dreamers, young people who are American in every way except on paper. We’ve even heard irresponsible threats to shut down the Department of Homeland Security, the very agency tasked with securing our borders and keeping Americans safe in a time of new threats, for no reason other than partisan disagreement over my actions.

It’s time to end the era of manufactured crises, put politics aside and focus on doing what’s best for America. So while I will fight any attempt to turn back the progress we’ve made or break up families across our country, I welcome the opportunity to work with anyone who wants to build on the improvements we’ve put in place, and fix our broken immigration system once and for all.

Throughout our history, America’s tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants has continually shaped us for the better. If we renew that tradition, and build upon it for future generations, there’s no limit to what we can achieve.

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