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After more than a year of encouraging Congress to pass an immigration law, President Obama gave a fiery White House speech Monday, saying the time had come for him to act alone on the issue.

"The failure of House Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad for our security, it's bad for our economy and it's bad for our future," he said. "If Congress won't do their job, at least we can do ours."

His administration has been busy in recent weeks responding to an unprecedented surge in children caught crossing the border. More than 40,000 children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador have been caught this year, and he has mobilized various federal agencies to house them and process them through the deportation system.

Obama said Republicans have used that crisis as their "newest excuse to do nothing."

"Their argument seems to be that because the system is broken, we shouldn't make an effort to fix it," he said. "It makes no sense. It's not on the level."

The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration rewrite last year, but House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said he won't bring it up for a vote in his chamber. The House has not advanced its own legislation. Boehner told Obama last week that the president can't be trusted to carry out the immigration enforcement aspects of the bill.

"Speaker Boehner told the president exactly what he has been telling him: The American people and their elected officials don't trust him to enforce the law as written," Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said Monday. "Until that changes, it is going to be difficult to make progress on this issue."

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