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President declares it's finally time to fix our broken immigration system

This year at the annual State of the Union address President Barack Obama promised action on income inequality, education, climate change and immigration. In discussing immigration in his speech, the President was careful not to antagonize Republicans, many of whom are genuinely eager to pass reform this year. Noting that immigration reform has wide ranging support from diverse groups, the President declared  “it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement – and fix our broken immigration system”.

While President Obama didn't spend too much of the address discussing immigration, his message was clear and convincing: almost everyone agrees it’s positive for the country and it needs to happen.

As a symbolic nod, the First Lady invited Cristian Avila, a young immigration activist, as one of her guests. Cristian is an undocumented immigrant who came to the United States as a child and because of DACA he has been able to live in the United States without fear of deportation.

But only temporarily.  In 2012, President Obama decided to exercise prosecutorial discretion to stop deporting undocumented immigrants who arrived here as children under the program known as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). DACA grants relief for two years and can be renewed, but it doesn’t confer legal status and doesn’t guarantee any type of permanent solution.

Without immigration reform, Cristian and thousands of others who have received DACA could still be deported down the line if a future administration decides to not exercise their prosecutorial discretion. So let’s heed the call of the President and business, faith, labor and law enforcement and pass reform this year.

For more on the State of the Union and DACA, read Avila's editorial in the Hill.

“Once fearing deportation, immigrant among first lady's guests”. Cindy Rodriguez. CNN.

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