Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Today at a naturalization ceremony for active-duty service members, President Obama addressed Arizona's anti-immigrant law in his remarks (partial transcript):
Like so many others, these men and women met their
responsibilities. They played by the rules. They have earned their
citizenship. And so on a day like this, we are also reminded of how we
must remain both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. This
includes fixing America’s broken immigration system.
Over the years, many have attempted to confront this challenge, but
passions are great and disagreements run deep. Yet surely we can all
agree that when 11 million people in our country are living here
illegally, outside the system, that’s unacceptable. The American
people demand and deserve a solution. And they deserve common-sense,
comprehensive immigration reform grounded in the principles of
responsibility and accountability.
Government has a responsibility to enforce the law and secure our
borders and set clear rules and priorities for future immigration. And
under Secretary Napolitano’s leadership at the Department of Homeland
Security, that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’ve strengthened security
at our borders, ports and airports and we will continue to do so,
because America’s borders must be secure. That’s part of what these
young people here today stand for.
Businesses have a responsibility to obey the law and not undermine
American workers, especially when so many Americans are out of work.
Many businesses work to comply with the law every day. But for those
that don’t — those that ignore the law and exploit and abuse
vulnerable workers and try to gain an unfair advantage over all the
businesses that do follow the law — we will hold them accountable.
And people who are in America illegally have a responsibility — to
pay their back taxes and admit responsibility for breaking the law, pay
a penalty, learn English, pass criminal background checks, and get
right with the law — or face removal — before they can get in line
and eventually earn their citizenship.
So responsibility. Accountability. Common-sense, comprehensive
immigration reform. I thank Secretary Napolitano for helping to lead
our efforts, both on and off Capitol Hill. And I thank Senators
Schumer and Graham for working with us to forge a bipartisan consensus
on a framework for moving forward, and I welcome the commitment of
House and Senate Democratic leaders to take action.
I’ll continue to consult with Democrats and Republicans in Congress,
and I would note that 11 current Republican Senators voted to pass
immigration reform four years ago. I’m hopeful that they will join
with Democrats in doing so again so we can make the progress the
American people deserve.
Indeed, our failure to act responsibly at the federal level will
only open the door to irresponsibility by others. And that includes,
for example, the recent efforts in Arizona, which threatened to
undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as
well as the trust between police and their communities that is so
crucial to keeping us safe.
In fact, I’ve instructed members of my administration to closely
monitor the situation and examine the civil rights and other
implications of this legislation. But if we continue to fail to act at
a federal level, we will continue to see misguided efforts opening up
around the country.
As a nation, as a people, we can choose a different future — a
future that keeps faith with our history, with our heritage, and with
the hope that America has always inspired in the hearts of people all
over the world. For just as each of these 24 new citizens once cast
their eyes upon our country from afar, so too, somewhere in the world
today is a young boy or a young girl wondering if they, too, might
someday share in America’s promise.
In the example of these new citizens, and in the actions we take as
a nation, let us offer our answer, with confidence and optimism. Yes,
there is a place called America that still welcomes those “yearning to
breathe free.” A country where if you work hard and meet your
responsibilities, you can pursue your dreams. A society where out of
many, we are one — “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty
and justice for all.”
That’s the promise of America. That is the spirit that all of you
are renewing here today. We are incredibly proud of you, God bless
you, and may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)