Obama Immigration Reform Speech: Deport Criminals & Temporary Green Cards For Families [Video]

President Obama’s immigration reform by executive order was revealed Thursday night during a prime-time speech. Illegal immigrants who qualify will be granted protection, a green card, for three years, Obama said, as he laid out his sweeping plan to the public from the East Room of the White House.

During his 15-minute speech, Obama said his administration will start accepting applications from illegal immigrants who seek the deferred actions.

Friday, President Obama will sign his executive order granting “deferred action” to two illegal immigrant groups, but the key is that they have been in country for five years. The two groups are parents of United States citizens or legal permanent residents and young people who were brought into the country illegally as of 2010 will be eligible.

Obama hopes his plan is “a common sense middle-ground approach.”

“If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.”

During several points Obama openly recognized the controversy over the legality of his executive order. Obama said “I have the legal authority to take as president” to give an executive order like past presidents, Democrat and Republican alike. At one point he pointed out that he, the President, did not have certain powers but only Congress does.

President Obama said immigration reform has been needed for over a decade, giving a raw deal for both illegal immigrants and citizens of the country.

“Mass amnesty would be unfair,” Obama said during the address. “Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character.”

From his speech, President Obama indicates the immigration reform by executive order should be a temporary solution and that a permanent solution needs to be made by Congress.

“And to those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill. I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution. And the day I sign that bill into law, the actions I take will no longer be necessary.”

Previously reported by The Inquisitr, the idea has been aired for a 2014 government shutdown over the past week or so by Republicans in a preemptive response to President Obama’s immigration reform by executive order. Also, Congress can’t stop the executive order immediately by defunding the order.

Some have said they were willing to do whatever was necessary to stop President Obama’s plan.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said in an op-ed in Politico Wednesday that if Obama acts, the new GOP majority in the Senate should retaliate by not acting on a single one of his nominees—executive or judicial—”so long as the illegal amnesty persists.”