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The president said that "leaving the broken system the way it is, ... that's not a solution." Obama went on to say that propositions such as deporting millions of immigrants or "build[ing] a wall without spending tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer money" are unrealistic. Trump made headlines last fall when he said he would get Mexico to build and pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
"It's a fantasy that offers nothing to help the middle class and demeans our tradition of being both a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants," Obama said at the White House.
Obama emphasized the consequences of the Supreme Court's ruling. The court's 4-4 split over his plan to spare millions of immigrants in the country in the U.S. from deportation and give them work permits left intact a lower-court ruling blocking the plan.
Blocked by Republican lawmakers on immigration reform, Obama issued an executive order in November 2014 aimed at protecting millions of undocumented immigrants.
"I think it is heartbreaking for the millions of immigrants who made their lives here, who have raised families here, who hope for the opportunity to work, pay taxes, serve in our military and more fully contribute to this country we all love in an open way," Obama said Thursday.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said the Supreme Court's action was a "major victory in our fight to restore the separation of powers."
Obama said Americans must decide whether they can tolerate the "hypocrisy" of the current system, which he said doesn't allow immigrants "the chance to get right with the law."
"We're going to have to decide whether we're people who accept the cruelty of ripping children from their parents' arms or whether we actually value families and keep them together for the sake of all of our communities," Obama said.
Obama called out House Republicans on their "failure so far to give a fair hearing" to his nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. In doing so, he said, Republicans have stymied his immigration plans by allowing the court to split until a ninth justice is appointed.
— Reuters contributed to this report.