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President Barack Obama made the case for his newly announced executive actions on immigration on Friday, saying it is “the first step, not the only step” and calling on Congress to pass comprehensive reform.
“We’ve known we can do better and for years we haven’t done much about it,” Obama said at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas. “Well today, we’re doing something about it.”
The president hit the road to sell the unilateral actions he unveiled in a prime-time address Thursday that will grant millions of undocumented immigrants the chance to stay in the country legally. The announcement was met with heavy Republican opposition from opponents who say Obama is overstepping his Constitutional bounds and has destroyed the possibility of passing comprehensive immigration reform.
“Some of them are already saying that my actions sabotaged their ability to pass a bill and make immigration work better. Why?” Obama said. “I didn’t dissolve Parliament, that’s not how our system works. I didn’t steal away the various clerks in the Senate and the House who manage bills.”
Obama visited the heavily Latino school in January 2013 to launch his push to overhaul the country’s immigration laws, saying “the time is now” for Congress to pass a bill.
The Senate passed a bipartisan bill last year, but the Republican led House has not considered the legislation, in large part because it included the contentious pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
“If they don’t want to pass that bill then I pledge to work with Republicans and Democrats next year to pass a more permanent legislative solution,” he said. “And the day I sign that bill into law, then the actions that I’ve taken will no long be necessary.”