On Thursday night, President Obama announced executive actions on immigration that will protect up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, if Congress doesn’t pass real reform legislation or throw Obama in prison anytime soon. This is the biggest shift in immigration policy in decades, so it’s no surprise that the speech produced far more passionate reactions than the average presidential address. As congressional Republicans fumed that Obama is acting like a monarch, immigrants cheered the decision at viewing parties across the country. All the major 2016 contenders felt compelled to weigh in, too, including Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. Here are the most dramatic reactions from across the political spectrum.
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Hillary Clinton tweeted her support just after the speech ended:
Then she released a much longer statement, calling on Congress to “finish the job” and expressing sympathy for undocumented immigrants as “people who love this country, work hard, and want nothing more than a chance to contribute to the community and build better lives for themselves and their children.” It’s like she wants to win over Hispanic voters for some reason.
Jeb Bush has avoided getting involved in current political debates even more than Clinton, but he posted this message on Facebook:
President Obama’s ill-advised unilateral action on illegal immigration undermines all efforts to forge a permanent solution to this crisis. Action must come in the form of bipartisan comprehensive reform passed through Congress. President Obama has once again put divisive and manipulative politics before the sober leadership and sound laws required of an exceptional nation. It is time for Republican leaders in Congress to act. We must demonstrate to Americans we are the Party that will tackle serious challenges and build broad-based consensus to achieve meaningful reforms for our citizens and our future.
Senator Ted Cruz shared this video of himself rehearsing a blistering speech in his bathroom mirror:
Texas Governor Rick Perry seemed fairly restrained for a guy whose state is threatening to sue President Obama over his immigration move.
Rand Paul posted an unusually dry statement on his website, which concluded, “I believe that immigration reform is needed, however for true and effective reform, we must first secure the border. I will not sit idly by and let the President bypass Congress and our Constitution.”
On Hannity, Representative Louie Gohmert whipped out a Bible and explained that Obama is guilty of two sins: ignoring parts of the Book of Exodus, which he quoted in his speech, and being like Jimmy Carter.
Then Representative Michele Bachmann called on Hannity viewers to attend a rally on the Capitol steps at “high noon” on December 3, and “melt the phone lines … say defund amnesty.”
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Immigration-reform advocates gathered in front of the White House and watched the speech on iPads. The crowd erupted in cheers after the speech was over and began chanting “USA” and, in Spanish, “Yes, we could” and “Obama, friend, the public is with you.”
Astrid Silva didn’t know that Obama was going to tell her story in the speech, and broke down in tears when she heard her name. Obama said she was brought to the U.S. at 4 with almost nothing and is now working on her third degree.
In two Vines she said her brother was born in the U.S., so her parents can stay in the country. “They’re not going to be in fear,” she said.
A young woman at the same event said that for her family the executive action “means that we’re staying together.”