In a Thursday evening prime time address from the White House, President Barack Obama announced three executive actions he plans to take on immigration reform. The much-anticipated move has already drawn considerable controversy, with Republicans accusing the president of unlawfully exceeding the powers of his office.
Millions of undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States for more than five years will be able to temporarily stay without fear of deportation, as long as they have children who are American citizens, register with authorities, pass a criminal background check, and pay taxes, Obama said. As many as 5 million people could benefit from this offer.
"If you meet the criteria you can come out of the shadows and be right with the law," Obama said.
He reiterated that this applies to "families, not felons," and noted that deportations of criminals are up 80 percent.
Additionally, Obama announced additional resources for law enforcement personnel at the border, and said it will become easier and faster for highly skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay in the United States.