Abbott, Perry criticize President Obama’s action on illegal immigration

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Gov. Rick Perry and Governor-elect Greg Abbott both expressed disapproval about President Barack Obama’s executive action to reform the United States’ immigration system.

Calling the country’s immigration system “broken,” Obama said he plans to make the immigration system more fair using executive action. In a speech Thursday, Obama announced the U.S. would improve efforts to stop illegal immigration and take steps to deal with people who have already immigrated to the U.S. illegally, including allowing immigrants who meet certain criteria the opportunity to temporarily remain in the U.S.

Obama said criminals who crossed the border illegally must be held accountable. Law enforcement would focus on those threats instead of children.

“We’ll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day,” Obama said. “But even as we focus on deporting criminals, the fact is, millions of immigrants in every state, of every race and nationality, still live here illegally. And let’s be honest — tracking down, rounding up, and deporting millions of people isn’t realistic.”

Obama said he intends to work on passing a more permanent solution with the help of both parties. He criticized those using the term “amnesty,” saying it does not apply to his plan.

“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,” Obama said. “That’s the real amnesty — leaving this broken system the way it is.”

After the speech, Abbott, who is currently the state’s attorney general, criticized Obama’s decision to work around Congress. In a statement, Abbott promised to challenge the president in court.

“President Obama has circumvented Congress and deliberately bypassed the will of the American people, eroding the very foundation of our nation’s Constitution and bestowing a legacy of lawlessness,” Abbott said. “Texans have witnessed firsthand the costs and consequences caused by
President Obama’s dictatorial immigration policy, and now, we must work together toward a solution in fixing our broken immigration system.”

Perry was also critical of Obama’s speech, saying his plan would only serve to exacerbate the problem of illegal immigration.

“In Texas, we know firsthand the problems brought by illegal immigration and bad federal policy,” Perry said in a statement. “As we saw with the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors who came across the border, a bad policy led to children being put at risk. The president’s decision tonight will lead to more illegal immigration, not less. It is time for the president and Congress to secure our border, followed by meaningful reforms.”