Obama's Big Gamble

President brings immigration reform battle to Las Vegas.
38:49 | 11/21/14

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Transcript for Obama's Big Gamble
Globe when I'm down Cutler in New York one day after a historic announcement on immigration reform of the president. Is on the road taking that plan to the American people in here is about to address the crowd in Las Vegas. Let's listen. Good to see you would. You're had two years ago. That's good. To be back bill also hired school gold rush. And let's. It whenever I'm glad to Vegas on their boards one that plans low more crowded. Her summaries and folks wanna come to banks. But today there was also crowded when a whole bunch of people who. And passion. About making sure America always remains a nation of remembrance including yours senator Harry Reid. Only and the Democrats about the represented the people of great. Some extraordinary members of congress who have been leading on immigration reform. There they are doing unbelievable work and I want to just name a compliment appropriate cement mixture I don't in the trouble. From left or right we've got to hub Airbus set up. Bruins but let us. The planets. Board's work. I've. We got the son in law of said that Chavez and a hero to farm workers in his own right. Arturo Rodriguez. I just want to get. Well well. And since we're on farm. Workers. A legend somebody who's just been a great friend to working people all across the country. Morris throughout thus there. You know I'm I'm so inspired by the introduction by Astrid. The last night I spoke directly to the American people about immigration. And you heard me talk about out. And if you watched her introduction just now you heard her talk a little bit about herself she was cute brought here is a little girl. And grew up believing. In America and in her identity. As an American. Dislike Malia or Sasha. Managed to grow up she found out mr. of them document. Which meant she couldn't do all the things are friends could do. She feared that she and her brother could be separated from their debt. Man one day she decide to start advocating for a fellow dreamers. And to stand up her femme. In a fight to make a difference. In this country but she lives. And part of what makes America exceptional. Is that we welcome exceptional people I guess. That makes us stronger up. It makes us vibrant and dynamic if makes us hopeful. We are a nation of immigrants and that means there were constantly being replenished. Which drivers. Who will believe in the American dream and it gives us a tremendous advantage over other nations. It makes us entrepreneur laureate. It took it if it continues. The promise that here in America. You can make it if you try. Regardless of where your company. Regardless of the circumstances of your bird. Our immigration system has been broken for a very long time and everybody knows. As Americans we believe in fairness the idea that if we work hard play by the rules we can get ahead. But too often the immigration system feels I'm fundamentally unfair. You've got families who try to come here the right weight but sometimes get separated or stock in line for yours. You've got business owners word on the right thing by their workers. Offering good wages and benefits and then you've got companies. There are ignoring minimum wage laws or overtime laws. Taking advantage of undocumented immigrants and as a consequence undercutting. The imports are drawn the right thing. All of us take offense BI today by can reap the rewards and living in America without its responsibilities and and folks like aspirin and asked what's parents. Who desperately want to make. A man's embrace the responsibilities of living here their force to either live in the shadows or risk having their families torn apart. We know about this for years. And we know we can do bad and for years we haven't done much about. We'll today were doing something about. I when I took office. I committed to fixing this broken system and I began by doing what I could to secure our borders because I do believe. And secure borders. And over the past six years illegal border crossings have been cut by more than had. Don't let all the rhetoric foreign. There with a brief spike this summer and unaccompanied children being apprehended at the border. But it was temporary and the number of such children is now actually lower than it's been a nearly two years overall the number of people trying to cross our border illegally. And that at its lowest level since the 1970s. 1000 high school. And I've got gray haired out. So it's been a long time. And nearly two years ago I came here. I also logical right in this gymnasium. And I've that the time had come for congress to fix our broken immigration system and I laid out some basic principles for reform. But lot of different parties could agree on. What was remarkable was the consensus the start develop we have business leaders and labor leaders at evangelical. Leaders. And law enforcement leaders. We have Republicans and we have Democrats and independents. And they also that bit yes we should secure our borders. We should bring our legal immigration system into the 21 century and then. Once and for all we should give the eleven million people living in the shadows a chance to make amends and earn their citizenship the right way. So those were principles we let them out we were very clear. And after I lit up those principles we then went to work with congress. And we started in the sept. And you ended up what a big majority of Democrats and Republicans and independents. All coming together in the senate. To pass a bipartisan bill based on these prints. The senate bill was a perfect it was a compromise that's that's how things work in congress. That's how things work in a democracy not everybody was satisfied with every provision but it was a good solid common sense bill that would have made our immigration system a lot better. We've doubled the number Border Patrol agents so for those who wanted more border security that was the belt. It would've made illegal immigration system smarter and fair. Who would've given it. The opportunity for young people. Who are talented and and who have. Now gotten a degree. In computer science or you'll some technical field to stay here and work. And and contribute and and create a business and create more jobs. You're welcome. I don't want them. The people that chance to get right when the call but it wasn't just a gift that would add five. There would add learn English that would add get to the back of the line. That would. Pay back taxes. It was a sensible oh. And then all these members of congress that worked on it and we're support about an independent experts not not me. People. Who. Analyze. The economy for a living they said that over two decades the new long would grow our economy. Shrink our deficits. In other words it would help to solve some big problems in a bipartisan way and nobody was happier than me when it passed the senate we said. Let's send it over the house we got votes in the house we've got Democrats and Republicans who are prepared above Florida's. Now been 512. Days. Our year and. In which the only thing standing. In the way. Of that bipartisan bill and my desk. So that I can sign that bill the only thing that's been standing in the way is a simple yes or no vote in the house broke them up just just an oboe. If they had allowed a vote on that kind of bill it would have pets. I would have signed. It would be bowl all right now. Thirdly these leaders right here try to make it happen Nancy Pelosi. Kept on slander her John Boehner let let's just call the bill. You see where ghosts. The Republicans who worked hard on this bill true and the big serve credit. Because even though it was immensely popular in a party they knew of the right thing to do. But despite that the party leadership in the House of Representatives would not let it come forward. And I cajoled and I called and I meant. I told dom Bader idea I'll I'll wash your car on walker dawn. What went whatever you need to do. Does does does call the bit that's our democracy is supposed to work. And it's the Botha could be a matter of them. We would have Cerro bread at least given a shot. And he didn't do it. And the fact that a year and a half has gone by means the time has been wasted. And during that time families have been separated and during that time businesses have been wrong. And we can't afford it anymore. Las Vegas that I've come back to docile to tell you I'm not giving up I will never give up. I will not. Give up. So. So we're not we're now we're given up we're gonna keep Portland members of congress to make permanent reform a reality. But until that day comes. There are actions. That I have the legal authority to take. That will help make our immigration system more fair and more jobs. Earnings I began to take some of of that. So I talked about. I thought I talked about what I could do based arm. Talking all the legal experts talk in your office of legal counsel. And not everything that we want to do we can't get. They tell me what we couldn't. And I want them to sit idly by and not do at least what I was authorized to do. So first we're providing more resources to law enforcement sedate and stand up. The flow of illegal crossings at our border and speed up the return of those who do crossover. I want to repeat that border security is important. Second. We're making it easier for high skilled immigrants graduates on to open doors to stand contribute to our economy. Third. Third were gonna. We're going to take steps to deal responsibly. With millions of undocumented immigrants who are here. Has I did last night as I did last night I want to spend some extra time talking about the third step because of the one. The brings up the strongest passions on both sites. The truth is undocumented workers broke our immigration lines. Let him follow. The rules in terms of how there are supposed to come. And I believe they should be held company. And some. Have proven to break other laws. Some are dangerous. That's why over the past six years deportations of criminals. Are up 80%. And that's why we'll keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security but that means balance not ramblings. That means criminals not children. Not mom we're trying to put odometer. On the table for their kids. So essentially what we're going as what law enforcement does every day. We've got limited resources. And so we're gonna prioritize. Where the folks who should be subject to removal and that means that we've got out but make sure the we've got clear rules in terms of how we're enforcing the law. But even as we focus on deporting criminals. Fact is millions of immigrants. They live here. And many of them have been here a very long time and they're found in every state. And their of every race and every nationality. I know I know a lot of people focus on the Latino community. But the truth bears that. But the truth bears. But they're not just. The truth bears. Okay. That's right not not everybody will qualify under this provision that's true. And that and that's that's the true that's why we're still gonna have to pass the go. Nuts over Southern Africa the phone. Let them. I I I heard you and what I'm saying is. We're still have to pass a bill this is not come this the first step it's not only spent we're still gonna have to do more work. Song. I've heard a young man I've heard you and I understand I've I've heard you. But what I'm saying is there's adjusted first so young man on dog and a lot of people here. I've been respectful to you I want you to be respectful to me. Understand that not everybody. Who comes here about the you don't. Sometimes that's the face of immigration on the telling us from Chicago. Irish immigrants newspapers are in order. We've got some polish immigrants and papers are not in order. Now we got some Ukrainian. Folks. You know down the floor we got some Haitian boat that big difference not just. A lot this notion is an American issue. And and and what we have to do is be honest that tracking down rounding up. And deporting millions of people. It's not realistic. That's not who we are. Most undocumented immigrants are good decent people. May have been here for a long time. They work. In other that they weren't they weren't offense in the toughest. Most low paying jobs. They're trying hard to support their families. They worship but our churches. Are kids go to school markets. They're. So so the fact is that. Mom. Even even Republicans who say get. That they don't want. To pass this bill that was passed by these legislators. Are not serious about trying to deport. 1011 million people. Yeah that's all rhetoric. Now what we do expect as the people who were here play by the rules you shouldn't get rewarded for cutting in line so we've offered the following deal. If you've been in America for more than five years. If you have children who are American citizens or legal residents. If you register. You pass a background check that. You are willing to pay your fair share of taxes. Then you're going to be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation. Come out of the senate. Get right with the law. Now and I look let's be clear on what this deal is. And what it isn't. This action doesn't apply to anybody who's come to this country recently. You can't show up for a week commend suddenly. Apply you can't. Because boarders mean something. It doesn't apply to anybody who might come illegally in the future. While I support a path to citizenship. And Soto all means legislators here. This action doesn't grant citizenship or the right to stay permanently or receive the same benefits that citizens receive only congress can do that. All we're saying is we're not gonna deport you can separate you from your kids. Now. It if you taken responsibility. You've registered undergone a background check Japan taxes. You've been here for five years you've got roots in the community you're not going to be deported. I know some critics call this action amnesty it's not amnesty. Amnesty. Really a bit the system we got to affect your gut millions of people who are living here. But they're not a black to pay their taxes or play by the rules and politicians have used the issue to scare people. And what Bob ultimate election time. So because they want to keep the system as its people living in the shadows. Maybe providing cheap labor. Not subject to any worker protections. And then you pretend like you're being tough on immigration. Let's not the right way to do it that's the real amnesty just talking. Leaving this broken system a waiters. The bottom line is mass amnesty would be unfair but mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our country's character that's not who we are. So what we are a what we are offering is accountability. It of accountability it's a common sense middle ground approach if you meet the criteria you can come out of the shadows you can get right with the low. If you are criminal you're gonna be deplored. If you plan ever but the United States illegally. Your chances of getting caught and sent back are going up. And for those who don't qualify. Under this rule we're still gonna need. Legislation. But the actions I've taken are not only lawful they are the kinds of actions taken by every Republican president and every democratic president for that. Past half century. Ronald Reagan. Took action to keep families to go but. The first President Bush took action to shield about 40% of undocumented immigrants at the time. This is something I'm don't. As if it's never been done this kind of thing has been done before. So when members of congress. Question my authority to make our immigration system work better. I am a simple ads. Pass a bill. Nothing. Nobody is stopping them from passing a bill. I got a good these days and I don't always listen all the commentary but. But I understand that some more artist saying the my actions sabotage. Their ability to pass a bill and make immigration. Work better. Why. I tend to hide and dissolve parliament does not our system works. I I didn't. You know it's still way be the various clerks and in the senate and the house who whom. Manage bills they. Don't. Have a vote in congress pass a bill you don't need me to call a vote to pass the bill. They got because. Because accidents the actions taken. Are only temporary for stat. I don't have the authority to do some really important reforms. We should be creating new programs for farmworkers. We should be getting visas for the high tech sector. We should be creating a pathway to citizenship. But only congress can do that. The house could still pass the bipartisan senate bill before the end of the year. This time that it is still got what you got scheduled to meet him for another four weeks. Prior to Thanksgiving called hell. That's been sent not. If they don't want to pass that bill. Not pledged to work with Republicans and Democrats next year to pass a more permanent legislative solution and the day I signed that bill in the long. Let me actions that I've taken will no longer be necessary and I'll give everybody credit. I'll be happy to have John Boehner and then. Mitch McConnell alongside Harry Reid Manson mostly it. Who has appeared with Bob Menendez and all these folks we'll all have a nice they're signing ceremony. So. So. So I just I just want to emphasize this issue. Not because I hear some people say well we're in favor of immigration reform but we don't. Think that it should be dealt without congress well congress going and doing. And and and meanwhile. Washington should not let disagreements. Over one issues. Be a deal breaker on every issue that's not our democracy works. Congress certainly should not shut down the government again over this because Americans are tired of gridlock. We are ready to move people. And we don't want what we're at and we just want sensible. Common sense approaches to problems. At this debate deserves more than the usual politics. Because for all the back and forth from Washington as I said last night this is about something bigger that is about who we are we want to be. America is not a nation. The except the hypocrisy of workers who more alarms make our best we not bad periods with no chance ever. To get right with the long. We're a nation that gives people a chance to take responsibility and make amends and and and then create a better future for their kids. America's not a nation that should be tolerating the cruelty of ripping children from her parents arms. We're nation that values families and we should work together to keep them together. American. Attracts talent from all around the world we educate the world young people in our universe it's. And then. We just. Send a maltreatment of their morning to start a bit lesser. Got some specialized skill we sent a moment and they compete against us. We should be encouraging the best and the brightest to study here and stay here an investigator and create jobs or businesses or industries here you look at Silicon Valley. 3040%. Of the companies that we now take for granted that have changed their lives that were started by immigrants. About passion volatile. And that's why it deserves reasoned and Bob. Poll and compassion of debate. That's why we have to focus. Not on our fears. Are focused on our hopes. You know every day. We receive thousands. Tens of thousands of letters and emails the White House. And as you can imagine for the past few days a lot of them that about him emigrate. May have come from good decent people on both sides of this debate. And I wanted to you know I want everybody here to understand. There folks were good knew some people who. Are worried about immigration the war that it changes the fabric of our country. There there are worried about. Whether immigrants take our take jobs from hard working Americans and their word because they're feeling a lot of economic stress. And and they feel as if maybe. They're the ones pad taxes. Nobody else's taken responsibility. So they're urged me not to act. And I hear them and I understand that. You know I've also got a lot of letters and emails reminding me why we had to act. From American family members of hard working immigrants who feared their families could be torn apart. From big dreamers who would probably stepped out of the shadows and were willing. To live. Without fear. Even though. It was a bit restful. From Republicans who don't agree we'll agree on anything but are tired of their party are refusing to vote on reform. One Republican who role. Roaming service he said he supported my decision. And he said. And I'm quoting I believe that a human being created in the very image of almighty god is the greatest resource that we have in this country. Okay. We're not a nation that kicks us drivers and dreamers who wanna earn their piece of the American bird. We're a nation that finds a way to welcome. We make a Myrna. But we welcome them in this fellow human. Beings. Fellow children of god and we harness their talents to make. The future brighter for everybody. Wouldn't raise this natural liberty weather back to the world. We did it whether light. Shining as a beacon to the world. And whether we were Irish or Italians or Germans crossed from the Atlanta or Japanese or Chinese crossing the Pacific. What are we crossed the Rio Grande or flew here from all over the world. Generations of immigrants who made this country into what it is it's what makes a special. And whether or whether we fled famine. Or war. Or persecution. Whether we have the right documents or connections or skills. Whether we were wealthy or poor we all shared one thing and that was hope that America would be the place would we. We're we can finally build. A better life for ourselves and for our children. And for future generations. Hope that America. Is the places. Where we could make. That's what makes this America. That's not what we look like it's not what our last name is it's not where we come from it's not how we Brian is. What makes of the American of their shared commitment to an ideal but all of us are created equal all of us have a chance to make our lives what we will. The Devil Rays and America by choice. An American by birth but come together to renew that common breed and moved its conflict well look that brought us that this moment. That is the legacy that we now have them deliver to the next general writes a thank you Nevada government. President Obama wrapping up remarks in front of a very fired up crowd and del sol high school in Las Vegas, Nevada. One day the first day after his speech last night the American public about immigration reform and now thinking that message in that plan on the road. To the American people I wanna bring it ABC's Devin Dwyer Hussein or by outside the white. House watching this all unfold there as the president he is maneuvering and seen exactly how all of this is plain out in Washington DC and across the country. And DeVon I want to bring you went to this does the president of drama bring in though the fight back to Las Vegas. What is the significance of that. Began last it was a sales pitch today it was a victory lap this was very much about a promise made promise capped. This is a much more political event for the president after last night's televised address it today. You heard him really playing to those key democratic constituencies. Minority groups immigrant groups specifically. Hispanics huge population they're Nevada and Las Vegas and his message today was that we did it Democrats did it Nancy Pelosi. Harry Reid did it and expect to be removed rewarded for that at the polls come 2016 and beyond it is today was very much a political speech yet. This speech last night the executive action taking place today in fact we have pictures aboard Air Force One was a president was signing. Some of those documents. DeVon explain exactly what was happening during this particular part of the process. A the president signed two pieces of paper on the plane before he got off stand in both of them were presidential memoranda one of them. Establishing an interagency committee to take a look at V seven modernization very want to topic. For new Americans another to do something similar task force essentially to look at how to cut a streamlined. The visa process. Both of those topics very small items on on the list of things that was announced last night. And I think that tells you that this was very much in administrative action by the president is actually did not require an executive order there was no. Formal order that carries. The binding nature of law that was signed as part of this move. Simply a couple of memoranda to federal agencies to look at some things all of this. It's going to be done administratively through rule making it takes effect next year dad what was. It was last night in a speech and then today in this afternoon's. Appearance in Las Vegas was to that addressing congress passed the bill said the president. And DeVon as expected Republicans reacted to that speech last night and it was a pretty swift pretty heated reaction in fact. Let this in the house speaker John Boehner in the action. By the president yesterday and Hubble only encourage more people to come here illegally. And putting their lives at risk. We saw the humanitarian crisis over border last song how horrific it blows. Well next summer there could be works. And this action also punishes those. Who've abate the law and have waited their turn. Deborah when you look at that and what exactly can a GOP do. Well they say again they're gonna do whatever it takes to block the president as you heard the speaker say he is not gonna stand idle in fact he told the president today. Or he said he told the president today at the past few days that he's actually damaging the presidency. And so Republicans are going to take a number of steps to try to prevent. These actions that were announced last night from taking effect. One of those possibilities as deep funding certain aspects of of the action sort of denying the cash needed to implement this another possibility. It's simply passing a law that says it would be illegal to do. XY and Z so we could see that. It also look for four were Republicans to sue the president in court we've already seen a number of these cases percolating around the country. And so we can expect. Some of those court cases to start taking shape yet. And DeVon as a soften this afternoon's. Event in Las Vegas there's senator Harry Reid from Nevada was on hand. Senator Reid we praise the president's action and immigration quoting him as saying in fact this is important to me. Why is it so significant for the senator. Harry Reid of course from Nevada his they've become embattled after after his party took a beating. In in the most recent campaign in and he's going to hand over his majority leader position. I to Mitch McConnell come January so. He's in a vulnerable position in that way but remember Harry Reid very powerful member. Of the senate he's been there for for many many years and in his key constituency in Nevada. Are those Hispanic voters had yet high population Hispanics in Nevada and so today. It was very much a local issue for him to say look I had a role in this keep that in mind. Diving into the politics and it was this a big gamble that for the president as far as unify the Democratic Party. I don't think there's so much a gamble Dan as it was a big dared Republicans are bad the White House sees and no downside really from what we've been hearing. To challenging Republicans to get all fired up about this in their car almost. Betting that Republicans will do extreme measures like shutting down the government through the funding we just talked about perhaps get a getting. Entangled in that getting tied up in court cases the White House believes the American people. Don't want to see that toward that partisan bickering at the end of the day and so I guess in the sense that part of it is a bit of a gamble but this is very much it dare. Two Republicans and right now you see a lot of momentum from this White House the very excited. About the way this is going again yet just a couple of hours really from making that big speech. Person that was habitable lighthearted moments of this afternoon at the White House there when the president was making his way. Two Marine One to then get on board Air Force One on his way to Nevada what happens. That's right we were out there on the on the South Lawn of the White House is this happened pretty routine dollar president walks out of the Oval Office. On his way to Marine One he actually boarded the helicopter everything. Going as usual and then all the sudden reporter for caught off guard as the president bolt hit out of the back door the helicopter ran into the residence he said he forgot something. He emerged just a few minutes later and when I shouted question to what did you forget Christopher's he's actually took office Blackburn said forgot my Blackberry. Interest scene Dan one in the bid the Associated Press photographers they got the president bolted out of the helicopter saw what appeared to be the black very honest belts so we don't know if he went back in the get a second phone. Our him or her perhaps something else maybe left his wallet. But it was a funny and in usual moment today. Very answers there wasn't that reported as well there had to make sure that in fact he did go back and you know stay in touch with the loved ones that I'm sure Hester of its. Via the Blackberry ABC's that in there are outside the white seven thanks so much appreciate it thanks again. You can keep up with this story in real time by downloading ABC news app and then start of the sort for exclusive updates on the go for now I'm down Cutler in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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