On Wednesday, President Barack Obama declared a “completely different” immigration policy for the United States.
“The United States of America has never had a better president,” Obama said at the State of the Union address, using the words “America” and “nation” a couple of times.
“But I am also a little bit proud of the fact that for the first time in American history, we will have a whole new environment in which to be able to speak to one another,” Obama added.
“We will not have to rely on people’s immigration status.
We will have more options.
We can work with them to secure their country.
We’ll be able for them to be here and be able stay and contribute to our economy, our national security, our society.
We’re going to have a totally different environment than we have ever had in this land, where everyone who wants to be an American can be an America-hating, border-crossing, hard-working immigrant who wants the chance to work, study, and make a decent living.”
Immigration reform advocates say the president’s comments are part of a larger message to the country.
“Obama’s ‘America’ statement is a direct attack on America and his presidency,” said Cecilia Muñoz, policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that advocates for stricter immigration policies.
“His policies are deeply flawed and have been shown to create huge, unintended consequences for our nation and its citizens.
The administration has failed to deliver on its promise to create a merit-based immigration system, and he’s been proven right.”
The president’s plan, which would make undocumented immigrants eligible for citizenship under a lottery system, was one of several policy proposals put forward during the campaign, which was marred by controversy over the detention of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants.
According to a new report by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, at least 2 million undocumented immigrants would be eligible for permanent residency in the United State under the plan.
The report says that the plan would also allow some undocumented immigrants to qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, which provides a refundable tax credit to families who are eligible for the refundable portion of the tax credit.
“This plan would provide benefits for thousands of people who currently do not have a workable path to citizenship,” said Matt Kibbe, director of the Institute for Policy Integrity.
“Immigration reform advocates have long argued that the government should prioritize the neediest people in our country, not the most vulnerable, and the president is right to do that.
But this plan will do just the opposite.”
A majority of Republicans voted against the measure, but most Democrats and some Latinos supported it, including many in swing states like Florida and Arizona.
Obama said that his immigration plan would not only be a boon to American workers, but also to the economy.
“It will allow us to bring thousands of jobs back to our country,” he said.
“I am also confident that this plan, while not perfect, will be the best solution to America’s immigration problems and to our broken immigration system.”
Immigration Reform Movement President John Binder said the White House’s statement on Wednesday shows that the president sees immigration as a “game changer.”
“President Obama’s immigration plan is the first step towards a fairer, more open immigration system and a more just immigration system,” Binder told Fox News.
“For the first-time in our nation’s history, the United Nation’s refugee program is being reformed, and more than 200,000 people from around the world are eligible to be resettled in the U.S. under this program.
That’s just the beginning.”
Binder noted that while the president has not released any details of his plan, he has previously called for an end to mass deportations, a plan that was rejected by Congress in 2011.
“President Barack Obama has pledged to be the president who puts the needs of the American people first,” Binders said.
Obama also called for a “more inclusive” approach to immigration.
“If we don’t take action to secure our borders, then there will be no future for these families,” he told Fox.
“And if we don- we don’ t put our communities first, then we will all pay a heavy price for this broken immigration policy.”