Like our Facebook page - click here!
President Obama's remarks on
Comprehensive Immigration Reform
So the principles are pretty straightforward. There are a lot of details behind it. We're going to hand out a bunch of paper so that everybody will know exactly what we're talking about. But the principles are pretty straightforward.
First, I believe we need to stay focused on enforcement. That means continuing to strengthen security at our borders. It means cracking down more forcefully on businesses that knowingly hire undocumented workers. To be fair, most businesses want to do the right thing, but a lot of them have a hard time figuring out who’s here legally, who’s not. So we need to implement a national system that allows businesses to quickly and accurately verify someone’s employment status. And if they still knowingly hire undocumented workers, then we need to ramp up the penalties.
Second, we have to deal with the 11 million individuals who are here illegally. We all agree that these men and women should have to earn their way to citizenship. But for comprehensive immigration reform to work, it must be clear from the outset that there is a pathway to citizenship. (Applause.)
We’ve got to lay out a path -- a process that includes passing a background check, paying taxes, paying a penalty, learning English, and then going to the back of the line, behind all the folks who are trying to come here legally. That's only fair, right? (Applause.)
So that means it won’t be a quick process but it will be a fair process. And it will lift these individuals out of the shadows and give them a chance to earn their way to a green card and eventually to citizenship. (Applause.)
And the third principle is we’ve got to bring our legal immigration system into the 21st century because it no longer reflects the realities of our time. (Applause.) For example, if you are a citizen, you shouldn’t have to wait years before your family is able to join you in America. You shouldn't have to wait years. (Applause.)
If you’re a foreign student who wants to pursue a career in science or technology, or a foreign entrepreneur who wants to start a business with the backing of American investors, we should help you do that here. Because if you succeed, you’ll create American businesses and American jobs. You’ll help us grow our economy. You’ll help us strengthen our middle class.
So that’s what comprehensive immigration reform looks like: smarter enforcement; a pathway to earned citizenship; improvements in the legal immigration system so that we continue to be a magnet for the best and the brightest all around the world. It’s pretty straightforward.
The question now is simple: Do we have the resolve as a people, as a country, as a government to finally put this issue behind us? I believe that we do. I believe that we do. (Applause.) I believe we are finally at a moment where comprehensive immigration reform is within our grasp.
But I promise you this: The closer we get, the more emotional this debate is going to become. Immigration has always been an issue that enflames passions. That’s not surprising. There are few things that are more important to us as a society than who gets to come here and call our country home; who gets the privilege of becoming a citizen of the United States of America. That's a big deal.
When we talk about that in the abstract, it’s easy sometimes for the discussion to take on a feeling of “us” versus “them.” And when that happens, a lot of folks forget that most of “us” used to be “them.” We forget that. (Applause.)
It’s really important for us to remember our history. Unless you’re one of the first Americans, a Native American, you came from someplace else. Somebody brought you. (Applause.)
Ken Salazar, he’s of Mexican American descent, but he points that his family has been living where he lives for 400 years, so he didn't immigrate anywhere. (Laughter.)
The Irish who left behind a land of famine. The Germans who fled persecution. The Scandinavians who arrived eager to pioneer out west. The Polish. The Russians. The Italians. The Chinese. The Japanese. The West Indians. The huddled masses who came through Ellis Island on one coast and Angel Island on the other. (Applause.) All those folks, before they were “us,” they were “them.”
And when each new wave of immigrants arrived, they faced resistance from those who were already here. They faced hardship. They faced racism. They faced ridicule. But over time, as they went about their daily lives, as they earned a living, as they raised a family, as they built a community, as their kids went to school here, they did their part to build a nation.
They were the Einsteins and the Carnegies. But they were also the millions of women and men whose names history may not remember, but whose actions helped make us who we are; who built this country hand by hand, brick by brick. (Applause.) They all came here knowing that what makes somebody an American is not just blood or birth, but allegiance to our founding principles and the faith in the idea that anyone from anywhere can write the next great chapter of our story.
And that’s still true today. Just ask Alan Aleman. Alan is here this afternoon -- where is Alan? He's around here -- there he is right here. (Applause.) Alan was born in Mexico. (Applause.) He was brought to this country by his parents when he was a child. Growing up, Alan went to an American school, pledged allegiance to the American flag, felt American in every way -- and he was, except for one: on paper.
In high school, Alan watched his friends come of age -- driving around town with their new licenses, earning some extra cash from their summer jobs at the mall. He knew he couldn’t do those things. But it didn’t matter that much. What mattered to Alan was earning an education so that he could live up to his God-given potential.
Last year, when Alan heard the news that we were going to offer a chance for folks like him to emerge from the shadows -- even if it's just for two years at a time -- he was one of the first to sign up. And a few months ago he was one of the first people in Nevada to get approved. (Applause.) In that moment, Alan said, “I felt the fear vanish. I felt accepted.”
So today, Alan is in his second year at the College of Southern Nevada. (Applause.) Alan is studying to become a doctor. (Applause.) He hopes to join the Air Force. He’s working hard every single day to build a better life for himself and his family. And all he wants is the opportunity to do his part to build a better America. (Applause.)
So in the coming weeks, as the idea of reform becomes more real and the debate becomes more heated, and there are folks who are trying to pull this thing apart, remember Alan and all those who share the same hopes and the same dreams. Remember that this is not just a debate about policy. It’s about people. It’s about men and women and young people who want nothing more than the chance to earn their way into the American story.
Throughout our history, that has only made our nation stronger. And it’s how we will make sure that this century is the same as the last: an American century welcoming of everybody who aspires to do something more, and who is willing to work hard to do it, and is willing to pledge that allegiance to our flag.
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
Join the conversation and post your thoughts in the comments! Read the 1461 Comment Guidelines.
1461 is read by over 1.1 Million People and growing Daily! Help the 1461 continue to Grow and spread the truth - invite your friends and family to join the 1461 and learn the truth rather than BS! Join our Facebook page by clicking here!