President Barack Obama addressed the nation on Nov. 20 about his plans for overhauling the country’s immigration system, one that he said was broken and in need of historic change. He announced that he would provide protection from deportation for some 5 million undocumented immigrants, including DREAMers and parents of children with American citizenship, in an effort to keep families together. With this monumental announcement behind him, the president traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada, on Friday, Nov. 21, to rally support for his immigration executive action.
Obama went to Del Sol High School in Las Vegas to address the students of this largely Latino educational institution. During the visit, the president was accompanied by an array of congressional members also in support of immigration reform, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Rep. Luis Gutierrez and Sen. Robert Menendez.
In front of a crowd of avid immigration reform supporters, Obama carefully laid out his plans for immigration reform and addressed his intentions to break through barriers that may stand in the way. One such initiative will be to work more closely with Congress.
“This is the first step, it’s not the only step,” Obama said. “We’re going to keep working with members of Congress … until that day comes, there are actions I have the legal authority to take to make our immigration system more fair and more just.”
Obama signs memoranda
There was more to the visit than giving a speech. While aboard Air Force One after landing in Nevada, the president signed two immigration memoranda: one to streamline and modernize the visa application process, and one to establish the White House Task Force on New Americans, which will create a federal strategy for integrating immigrants into the U.S.
Many in Las Vegas were ecstatic that the president chose to visit this location first and sign the memoranda here. After all, Nevada has the highest population of undocumented immigrants in the country – about 8 percent of the state, according to the Pew Research Center. Additionally, approximitely two-thirds of Del Sol High School is Hispanic, and many of its students will be directly affected by Obama’s executive action. This educational institution – in the very same gymnasium where Obama spoke – is where the president first called for an overhaul of the immigration system during a speech two years prior.
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