Obama: 'Now's the time' for comprehensive immigration reform
President calls for 'common sense' reform
- Duration 22:54
- Date Jan 29, 2013
President calls for 'common sense' reform
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A last week.
Last week I had the honor being sworn in for a second term -- -- the united.
During my inaugural address I talked about.
On the defining challenges of our time.
Of them require us to settle every debate.
Or -- every difference we may -- But it does require us to find common ground.
And move forward.
In common purpose.
Requires us to act.
I don't have some issues will be harder to left and others.
Some debates will be more contentious.
-- to be expect.
The reason I came here today.
Is because the challenge where the differences are -- We're broad consensus.
And where a call for action.
Can now be heard coming from all across -- map.
I'm here today because the time has come.
For common sense.
One of the.
I'm here because.
I'm here because most Americans agree.
That his son to fix -- system that's.
Been broken for way too long.
I'm here because business leaders.
And leaders from both parties are coming together.
To say now is the time to find a better way.
To welcome the striving.
Hopeful immigrants who still -- America's the land of -- Now the time.
To do this so we can strengthen our economy.
And strengthen our country's future.
Think about it we define ourselves as a nation of immigrants that's who we are in our bones.
We see in those who come here from every corner of the globe that's always been one of our greatest strengths.
It keeps our workforce -- It keeps our country on the cutting edge.
And it's helped build the greatest economic engine the world has ever know.
After all immigrants helped start businesses like Google.
And -- They created entire new industries that in turn created new jobs and new prosperity Parsons.
In recent years one in four high tech startups in America -- founded by immigrants.
One in four new small business owners were immigrants including right here in the -- Folks who came here seeking opportunity and now want to share that opportunity what other Americans.
But we all know that today we have an immigration system that's out of date.
And badly -- A system that's holding us back.
Instead of helping us grow our economy and strengthen our middle class.
Right now we have eleven million undocumented immigrants in America.
Eleven million men and women.
From all over the world.
Who live their lives in the shadows.
Yes they broke the rules.
They cross the border illegally.
Maybe they overstayed their visas.
Those -- the facts.
But these eleven million men and women.
Are now here.
Many of them have been here for years.
In the overwhelming majority of these individuals aren't looking for any trouble.
They're contributing members of the community.
-- looking out for their families the looking out for their neighbors.
Are woven into the fabric of our lives.
Like the rest of us they go out and try to -- that.
Often they do that in the shadow economy a place where employers.
May offer them less -- the minimum wage.
Or make them work overtime without extra -- And when that happens it's not just bad for them it's bad for the entire economy.
Because all the businesses that are trying to do the right that.
But are hiring people illegally paying a decent wage following the rules they're the ones who suffer they've got to compete.
Against company -- a break in the rural.
And the wages and working conditions of American workers are threatened to.
So work truly committed to strengthening our middle class.
And providing more ladders of opportunity to those -- -- to work hard to make it into the middle class.
We've got to fix the system.
We have to make sure that every business.
And every worker in America.
Is playing by the same sort of rules.
We have to bring this shadow economy into the light so that everybody is held accountable.
Businesses for who they hire.
Immigrants for getting on the right side -- That's common -- That's why we need comprehensive immigration reform.
There's another economic reason why we need reform.
There's not just about the folks who come here illegally and have.
The effect they have on our economy it's also about the folks who try to come here legally but have a hard time doing so.
And the effect that it has on our come.
Right another brilliant students from all over the world sitting in classrooms at our top universities.
There earning degrees in the field -- the future -- engineer and computer science.
But once they finish school.
Once they -- -- that diploma.
There's a good chance we'll have to leave our country.
I think about that.
Intel was started with the help of an immigrant who studied here and then stayed here.
In this program.
Was started with the help of an immigrant who studied here.
And then -- here.
Right now I'm one of those classrooms business that's still wrestling with how to turn their big idea.
There in teller -- -- into a big business.
We're giving them all the skills they need figure that out.
But we're gonna turn around and tell them to start -- business -- those jobs in China.
Or some place else that's not how you -- new industries in America.
-- tell you give new industries to our competitors.
That's why we need comprehensive immigration reform.
-- During my first term -- We took steps to try and patch up some of the worst cracks in the system.
First we strengthen security -- the -- so that we could finally stemmed the tide of illegal immigrants.
We put more boots on the ground on the southern border than at any time -- -- history.
And today illegal crossings are down nearly 80% from their peak in.
Second we focused our enforcement efforts on criminals who are here illegally and who endanger our communities.
And today deportations of criminals is at its highest level -- And third we took up the cause of the dreamers.
The young people were brought to this -- Young people -- brought up -- -- their lives here have futures here.
We said that if you're able to meet some basic rights -- Are pursuing an education.
There will consider offering you the chance to come out of the shadows of that you can live here and work your legal so you can finally have.
The dignity of knowing you -- Because this changes and permanent.
We need congress that.
And not just on the DREAM Act.
We need congress to act on a comprehensive approach that finally deals with the eleven million undocumented immigrants or in the country.
Right now that's what -- Now the -- knows this that.
For the first time in many years.
Republicans and Democrats seem ready to tackle this problem together.
Members of both parties.
In both chambers are actively working on a solution.
Yesterday a bipartisan group of senators announced.
Their principles for comprehensive immigration reform which are very much in line.
With the principles I proposed and campaigned on for the last few years.
So at this moment it looks like there's a genuine desire to get this done so and that's -- purchase.
Action must fall.
We can't allow.
Immigration reform to get bogged down in an endless debate we've been debating this very long time.
-- it's not as if we don't know technically what needs to give up.
As a consequence to help move this prop process along.
Today I'm laying out my ideas for immigration reform.
And my hope is that this provides some key markers to members of congress as they craft a bill.
-- -- -- I'm proposing have traditionally been supported by both Democrats like Ted Kennedy.
Like president George W.
Bush you don't get that match up very often.
So so we know where the consensus should be.
Now of course there will be rigorous debate about many of the details.
And every stakeholder should engage in real give and take in the process.
But it's important for us to recognize.
That the foundation.
For bipartisan action is already in place.
And if congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion.
I will send up a bill based on my proposal.
And insist the big vote on it right away.
And -- So that the principles.
Are pretty straightforward.
There are a lot of details behind it we're gonna hand out a bunch of paper so that everybody don't know exactly what we're talking about but.
But the principles are pretty straightforward.
I believe we need to stay focused on -- 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 that we need to ramp up the penalties.
We have to deal with the eleven million individuals were here illegal.
-- we all agree that these men and women should have to earn their way to citizenship.
But for comprehensive immigration reform -- work.
It must be clear from the outset that there is a pathway to citizenship.
-- -- -- -- -- -- A process that includes passing a background check.
Paying a penalty.
And then going to the back of the line behind all the folks we're trying to come here legally that's only fair.
I had abundance.
There won't be a quick process.
But it won't be a fair process -- -- won't let these individuals out of the shadows.
And give them a chance to earn their way to a green card and eventually.
And the third principle.
Is we've got to bring our legal immigration system end -- the 21 century.
Because -- no longer reflects the realities of our time.
If you're a citizen.
You shouldn't have to wait years before her family is able to join -- -- -- If you're -- foreign student who wants to pursue a career in science and technology.
Or for an entrepreneur or who wants to start a business.
With the backing of American investors.
Should help you do that here.
Because if you succeed you'll create American businesses and American jobs.
The levels grow our economy you'll help us strengthen our middle class.
So that's what -- present immigration reform looks like.
It's smarter enforcement.
A -- way to earn citizenship.
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 -- people.
As a country.
To finally put this issue behind us.
I believe that we do.
I believe we are finally at a moment.
-- comprehensive immigration reform is within our grasp.
But I promise you -- the closer we get.
The more emotion all this debate is gonna become.
Immigration -- always been an issue that inflames passions.
That's not surprised -- other there are few things that are more important to us as a society then who gets to come here Clark 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.
Sometimes for the discussion to take on a feeling of us vs them.
And when that happens a lot of folks forget that most of us used to be event.
-- -- -- It's really important for us to remember our history.
You know unless you're one of the first Americans.
And native American you came from someplace else.
Somebody brought to.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- You know Mexican American to -- but he he points out that is damaged and eleven more.
Where he lives for 400 years so.
Little good anywhere.
Who left behind a land of family.
The Germans who fled persecution.
The scandinavians who arrived eager to pioneer out west.
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 out.
-- All those folks.
Before there were -- They were them.
And when each new wave of -- They faced.
From Mosul were already here.
They faced hardship.
-- -- -- They face ridicule.
But over time.
There what about their daily lives.
As they learn to live there raise defense.
As they built a community.
-- kids went to school here.
They did their part to build a nation.
They were the Einstein's in the -- to -- but they're also the millions of women -- 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.
They all came here knowing that what makes somebody an American is not just -- Or birth.
To our founding principles.
And the faith in the idea that anyone from anywhere.
Can write the next great chapter of our store.
And that's still true today.
Just ask Alan Alan -- -- here this afternoon where they'll.
-- you runners there is right.
Allen was born in Mexico.
Is brought to this country by his parents when he was -- shot.
Growing up Allen went to an American school.
To the American -- Felt American in every way.
-- -- And high school alum watched his friends come of age driving around town -- new licenses.
Bring 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 Allen was earning an education so that he could live up to his god given potential.
Last year when Alan heard the news that we -- gonna offer a chance for folks like him to emerge from the shadows even if it's just for two years of the time.
He was one of the first to sign up.
And a few months ago lawyers want one of the first people of Nevada to get approved.
In that moment Allen said.
I felt the fear bash.
I felt except.
So today -- in the second year the college of southern Nevada.
Now I'm starting to become a doctor.
He hopes to join the air force.
He's working hard every single that.
To build a better life for himself and -- -- And only wants.
Is the opportunity.
To do his part to build a better America.
So in the coming weeks.
The idea of reform becomes more real.
And the debate becomes more heated.
And their folks -- are trying to.
Pull this thing apart.
Remember -- And all those who share the same hopes in the same -- Remember that this is not just a debate about policy.
It's about people.
Men and women.
And young people.
Who want nothing more than the chance to earn their way into the American store.
Throughout our history.
That's only made our nation strong.
That's how we will make short of the century is the same as the last.
To do something.
Want to work hard to do.
As well in the pledge.
Of allegiance -- -- Thank you god bless god -- it states.