LAS VEGAS – Less than 24 hours after announcing executive actions to overhaul the nation’s immigration system, President Obama came here to sell the plan for the first time, calling the current system unfair and in need of a major fix.

“Our immigration system has been broken for a very long time and everybody knows it,” he said. For years, Obama said, “we haven’t done much about” fixing the system. “Today we’re doing something about it.”

In a speech that was part replication of Thursday’s address, part impassioned campaign rally and part a challenge to Congress to pass an immigration reform bill, Obama continued to lay out a legal and moral case for why he needed to take action, and to chide Republicans.

“We’re not a nation that kicks out strivers and dreamers who want to earn their piece of the American dream,” Obama said. “We didn’t raise the Statute of Liberty with her back to the world, we did it with her light shining.”

In many ways, Obama came full circle by announcing his plan at Del Sol High School here -- it is where, nearly two years ago, he first called for an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws. On Friday, during his return visit, he was careful to lay out the limits on his new moves to turn that immigration reform agenda into a reality.

The actions are only a “temporary first step,” Obama said. He was interrupted by a man in a blue T-shirt who said that Obama’s actions don’t go far enough.

The president acknowledged that not everyone will qualify.

“That’s the truth," Obama said. "I heard you, but what I’m saying is we’re still going to have to pass a bill. This is the first step, it's not the only step. We're still going to have to do more work."

Obama said there were Republicans who deserve credit for trying to pass an immigration bill, despite that, House Speaker John Boehner would not let it come up for a vote.

"I cajoled and I called and I met. I told John Boehner, I’ll wash your car, I’ll walk your dog -- whatever you need to do, just call the bill. That’s how democracy is supposed to work. And if the votes hadn’t been there, then we would have had to start over. But at least give it a shot -- and he didn’t do it."

Boehner does not have a dog, according to his spokesman.

"The fact that a year and a half has gone by means that time has been wasted. And during that time, families have been separated. And during that time, businesses have been harmed. And we can’t afford it anymore," Obama said.

When members of Congress question his authority to issue an executive order, Obama said that he has “a simple answer. Pass a bill. Nobody is stopping them from passing a bill.”

"...I didn't dissolve parliament," he said. "I didn't steal away the various clerks in the House and Senate"

Obama arrived in Las Vegas with a group of Democratic members of Congress who sat on stage during his speech, including outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) Obama said he would like to have Boehner and the Senate’s incoming majority leader, Mitch McConnell on stage one day for a “nice signing ceremony” on immigration.

Instead, he signed two memoranda on immigration Friday while aboard Air Force One after landing in Las Vegas: One of to establish a White House Task Force on New Americans, and the other to streamline and modernize the visa process.

Many here were ecstatic that the president chose to officially sign his immigration actions here. But that excitement is tempered with the awareness that most significant changes will only come through congressional passage of immigration reform -- and that Obama's executive actions might not outlast his presidency.

"It's full circle," said Ebeth Palafox, the Nevada deputy director for Mi Familia Vota, an advocacy organization. "He's bringing it back home for the second time."

The president's appearance here was deeply symbolic.  Nearly two-thirds of Del Sol students are Hispanic. Its Newcomer Academy -- what the Clark County School District calls a "school within a school" -- gives intense English language instruction to many students who are not fluent in the language.

Blanca Gamez, 25, a DREAMer who was supposed to attend Del Sol but attended a magnet school instead, said that she has many friends who are students or graduates -- and that many of them are undocumented.

Nevada has the nation's highest percentage of undocumented immigrants -- roughly 8 percent of the state's population, according to the Pew Research Center -- and of students who have at least one undocumented parent. Eighteen percent of students here fit into that category. Nevada also has the highest percentage of undocumented immigrants in its work force, with 10 percent of all employees lacking proper documentation.

"Nearly two years ago, I came here, Del Sol High School, right in this gymnasium...and I said that the time had come for Congress to fix our broken immigration system and I laid out some basic principles for reform that a lot of different parties could agree on," Obama said Friday.

"So Las Vegas, I've come back to Del Sol to tell you I'm not giving up. I will never give up. ...We're going to keep on working with members of Congress to make permanent reform a reality," he added. "But until that day comes, there are actions that I have the legal authority to take and that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just. And this morning I began to take some of those actions."