Just hours after his administration announced a major shift in U.S. immigration policy, President Obama made his case to the American people, calling his new plan "the right thing to do" in a speech broadcast from the White House.
"This morning Secretary Napolitano announced new actions that my administration will take to mend our nations immigration policy; to make it more fair, more efficient and more just, specifically for young people sometimes called dreamers," Obama said.
The new guidelines, which were not approved by Congress, will reportedly prevent younger illegal immigrants from being deported if they meet a specified set of guidelines laid out by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
He called the young illegal immigrants who were brought to America by their parents "Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper."
"They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants and often have no idea that they are undocumented until they apply for a job, or a driver's license, or a college scholarship," Obama said. "Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you've done everything right your entire life; studied hard, worked hard, maybe even graduated at the top of your class only to suddenly face the threat of deportation to a country that you know nothing about with a language you might not even speak."
The president said this is what gave rise to the DREAM Act, which says that illegal immigrants who have been in America for more than five years and who were born here can be put on a path to citizenship. Obama said he will sign the DREAM Act "immediately" if lawmakers put it on his desk.
"It's the right thing to do," Obama continued. "It makes no sense... to expel these young people who want to staff our labs or start new businesses or defend our country simply because of the actions of their parents – or the inaction of politicians."
Obama toted his administration's efforts to secure the border saying they have put more boots on the southern border than anytime in history and illegal border crossings are at their lowest in 40 years."
"We have improved on that discretion carefully and thoughtfully. Well today we are improving it again. Effective immediately, the Department of Homeland Security is taking steps to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people," Obama said. "For the next few months, eligible individuals who do not present a risk to national security or public safety will be able to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorization."
He continued, "Lets be clear, this is not amnesty, this is not immunity, it's not a path to citizenship, this is not a permanent fix." Obama again called it the "right thing to do" for in general and also for "security."
"We are a better nation than one that expels innocent young kids," Obama added.
Before concluding, Obama again challenged Congress to come together to pass the Dream Act and craft long lasting solutions on immigration reform.
Watch some of President Obama's comments here: