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Some politicians hail Obama immigration plan, others cry #fail
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Some politicians hail Obama immigration plan, others cry #fail

Arizona politicians had mixed — and predictable — reactions to President Obama's announcement of new immigration enforcement priorities, and an expansion of deferred action from deportation. Ranging from welcoming the move as "a turning point" to calling Obama "a tyrannical king," here are comments from members of Congress and others.

U.S. Sen. John McCain

I agreed with President Obama last year when he stated that taking executive action on immigration was 'not an option' because it would amount to 'ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally.'

I regret that he has reversed his position today by ordering executive action which not only lacks legal justification, but will set back important bipartisan efforts to reform our broken immigration system and secure our nation's borders – causes I have long supported.

The President's unilateral action announced today fails to address the root causes of the dysfunction in our immigration system, including an insecure border, the absence of a rational, efficient guest worker program to meet America's urgent labor needs, and a broken system for legal immigration, which fails those around the world who seek the American dream by actually following our laws. Unilateral executive action also fails to provide a responsible approach to providing permanent relief to those living and working without legal status inside the United States, and harms the chances for Congress to reach a compromise resolving their legal position. Finally, unilateral executive action will only incentivize increased illegal immigration, opening the floodgates to more visa overstays and illegal entries across our southern border.

As President Obama has previously said, he is not 'a king' or 'the emperor of the United States,' and he isn't legally able to unilaterally change immigration law any way he sees fit. Congress has a responsibility to respond and push back on his illegal power-grab. Congress must be creative in using all the tools in our toolbox – including mounting a legal challenge – to oppose the President's action.

At the same time, I believe that we Republicans must remain committed to advancing the broad, common-sense conservative agenda we share, and prove to the American people we can legislate solutions and govern effectively. Our nation has big challenges at home and abroad, and Republicans must rise to the occasion to address them.

Immigration is an issue that must be debated and decided by the representatives of the people, not by executive fiat. I had hoped that President Obama would wait for the new Congress to engage on this issue next year before contemplating any action, but it is now clear that he is more interested in using it to the Democrats' political advantage in 2016 than he is in working in a bipartisan manner to address this pressing national challenge once and for all."

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva

Today marks a turning point for our nation. After a grueling journey that has both pained and united so many, we are beginning to turn the page on this chapter of our history. I am proud of President Obama for standing by his word, and standing with immigrant communities tonight. He has proven himself a devoted American leader. The actions he announced will provide relief for millions of people who want nothing more than to be our fellow citizens and contribute to our society. The price of entry to the United States of America should not be severed family ties, exploitive employment, or the fear of deportation. These executive actions will help ensure that is not the case for millions of deserving people.

The President's actions are not all-encompassing – they are a strong starting point with clear opportunities to build from. He acted within the confines of the law, knowing that overreaching would bring legal challenges that could undo the entire effort. The result is historically significant and politically brave action that moves our country forward. I am confident that, in implementing these actions, the administration will do what is right and just to ensure our border communities do not unnecessarily suffer under the facade of security.

Republicans who will undoubtedly attack the president's plan must recognize that his actions are a direct result of the GOP's lack thereof. But the relief provided by executive action is temporary and restricted in scope. This journey will endure until a permanent, legislative solution provides a humane and functional immigration system.

This country was built on the hopes and dreams of people coming here in search of a better life. It was made great by the ideas and cultures they brought from every corner of the globe. Tonight, President Obama helped keep that rich heritage alive and well in the United States of America."

U.S. Rep. Ron Barber

Our immigration system is broken and it's Congress's job to fix it.   

I've said from day one that Congress needs to act, and the president should not go it alone. I am disappointed that Congress has brought us to this point and I call on leaders in the House to end the gridlock and bring the bipartisan McCain-Flake immigration bill to the floor. Arizona deserves a real solution that promotes our economy and ensures the safety of our citizens.

U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick

Nobody is more tired of waiting for Congress to act on immigration than the people of Arizona. The president’s action tonight could bring millions of workers out of the shadows and keep families together, but it does not fix our broken immigration system. That is Congress’ job, and Congress needs to get its act together. The Senate passed bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform more than a year ago with support from Arizona’s senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake. But rather than allow a vote on reform, House leadership continues to stonewall. Now, more than ever, Congress must act. I ask my colleagues who are protesting loudly tonight to instead raise their voices and demand a vote on the Senate’s bipartisan reform bill, which strengthens border security, keeps families together and addresses our labor and economic needs.

Gov. Jan Brewer

Not so long ago, President Obama rightly acknowledged that his role as president under the Constitution is to 'take care that the laws be faithfully executed.' Publically and repeatedly he has rejected the suggestion of bypassing Congress to impose a de facto amnesty via executive order.

Now, rather than work with Congress on a bipartisan solution to fix our immigration system and secure the border, he is once again taking brazen, unilateral action that will only further exacerbate the border problem – just as he did in 2012 when he signed an executive order to provide an amnesty to almost two million illegal aliens through his 'Deferred Action' plan.

This is not a partisan issue. When the bluest of blue states – like Oregon, for example – vote overwhelmingly to prohibit illegal aliens from obtaining drivers licenses, it speaks volumes about the widespread lack of support for President Obama's immigration policies. The American people have spoken, and time and again they have been ignored.

That President Obama refuses to visit our border, refuses to enforce our existing immigration laws and refuses to come to the table on an issue of such critical national safety and economic importance is a disgrace. We are a nation of laws, the most significant of which are written to ensure cooperation and balance among our branches of government. Separation of powers is what has distinguished us from other forms of government for 225 years. Over the past six years, this President has sought at every turn to move us toward a concentration of power which, as President Reagan opined, 'has always been the enemy of liberty.' With controversial executive actions like that announced today, President Obama undermines our Constitution and erodes the fundamental principles upon which America was built.

Clearly, the President is not interested in executing our laws, and even when he and his party had control of Congress and the White House, they did absolutely nothing to reform immigration. His new executive action sends a disturbing message about the way this President perceives his role as leader. When a president constantly refuses to enforce existing laws, disregards the will of the people and creates his own policies based on personal preferences, we shift from a nation of democracy to one of tyranny. In 1838, a profound man, Abraham Lincoln, prophetically warned the American people that a tyrant could overtake our political system from within, and that, 'when such a one does, it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs.'

Evidently this President must be reminded that we, the American people, elected a president that serves beneath the law – we did not anoint a tyrannical king that is above the law."

Martha McSally, Republican candidate for Congress

Instead of making speeches about how he's going to go it alone on immigration and ignore our system of checks and balances, the president should be inviting leaders from both parties together to find areas we agree on. If anything's clear from the last election, it's that people are fed up with the divisions in Washington and want our leaders to work together."

If the president is looking to act on immigration, he should use the authority he already has to fix our failed border strategy, but he refuses. When I get to Congress, I'll work for lasting immigration reform that addresses the root problems of our broken system by securing our border and modernizing our legal immigration system so it contributes to economic growth."

Obama's speech

Excerpts from President Obama's speech; read and watch video of the complete address here.

Our immigration system is broken, and everybody knows it.

***

First, we'll build on our progress at the border with additional resources for our law enforcement personnel so that they can stem the flow of illegal crossings, and speed the return of those who do cross over.

Second, I will make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders have proposed.

Third, we'll take steps to deal responsibly with the millions of undocumented immigrants who already live in our country.

I want to say more about this third issue, because it generates the most passion and controversy. Even as we are a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of laws. Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, and I believe that they must be held accountable – especially those who may be dangerous. That's why, over the past six years, deportations of criminals are up 80 percent. And that's why we're going to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security. Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mother who's working hard to provide for her kids. We'll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day.

***

Now here's the thing: we expect people who live in this country to play by the rules. We expect that those who cut the line will not be unfairly rewarded. So we're going to offer the following deal: If you've been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you're willing to pay your fair share of taxes – you'll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily, without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law.

That's what this deal is. Now let's be clear about what it isn't. This deal does not apply to anyone who has come to this country recently. It does not apply to anyone who might come to America illegally in the future. It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive – only Congress can do that. All we're saying is we're not going to deport you.

I know some of the critics of this action call it amnesty. Well, it's not. Amnesty is the immigration system we have today – millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules, while politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time.

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