President Obama on immigration reform: ‘Let’s see if we can get it done this year’

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Today, President Obama joined leaders from business, labor, and faith
communities in support of comprehensive immigration reform.

Remarks by the President on Immigration Reform (excerpts):

Today I’m here with leaders from business, from labor, from faith
communities who are united around one goal — finishing the job of
fixing a broken immigration system.

This is not just an idea whose time has come; this is an idea whose
time has been around for years now.  Leaders like all of you have worked
together with Republicans and Democrats in this town in good faith for
years to try to get this done.  And this is the moment when we should be
able to finally get the job done.

* * *

We should pass immigration reform.  It’s good for our economy.  It’s
good for our national security.  It’s good for our people.  And we
should do it this year.

Everybody knows that our current immigration system is broken. 
Across the political spectrum, people understand that.  We’ve known it
for years.  It’s not smart to invite some of the brightest minds from
around the world to study here and then not let them start businesses
here — we send them back to their home countries to start businesses
and create jobs and invent new products someplace else. 

It’s not fair to businesses and middle-class families who play by the
rules when we allow companies that are trying to undercut the rules
work in the shadow economy, to hire folks at lower wages or no benefits,
no overtime, so that somehow they get a competitive edge from breaking
the rules.  That doesn’t make sense. 

It doesn’t make sense to have 11 million people who are in this
country illegally without any incentive or any way for them to come out
of the shadows, get right with the law, meet their responsibilities and
permit their families then to move ahead.  It’s not smart.  It’s not
fair.  It doesn’t make sense.  We have kicked this particular can down
the road for too long. 

Now, the good news is, this year the Senate has already passed an
immigration reform bill by a wide, bipartisan majority that addressed
all of these issues.  It’s a bill that would continue to strengthen our
borders.  It would level the playing field by holding unscrupulous
employers accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers. 

It would modernize our legal immigration system, so that even as we
train American workers for the jobs of the future, we’re also attracting
highly-skilled entrepreneurs from beyond our borders to join with us to
create jobs here in the United States. 

It would make sure that everybody plays by the same rules by
providing a pathway to earned citizenship for those who are here
illegally — one that includes passing a background check, learning
English, paying taxes, paying a penalty, getting in line behind everyone
who is trying to come here the right way.

So it had all the component parts.  It didn't have everything that I
wanted; it didn't have everything that anybody wanted; but it addressed
the core challenges of how we create a immigration system that is fair,
that’s just, that is true to our traditions as a nation of laws and a
nation of immigrants.  And that's passed the Senate by a bipartisan
majority.  (Applause.) 

So here's what we also know — that the bill would grow the economy
and shrink our deficits.  Independent economists have shown that if the
Senate bill became law, over the next two decades our economy would grow
by $1.4 trillion more than it would if we don't pass the law.  It would
reduce our deficits by nearly a trillion dollars. 

So this isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to
do.  Securing our borders; modernizing our legal immigration system;
providing a pathway to earned, legalized citizenship; growing our
economy; strengthening our middle class; reducing our deficits — that’s
what common-sense immigration reform will do.

Now, obviously, just because something is smart and fair, and good
for the economy and fiscally responsible and supported by business and
labor — (laughter) — and the evangelical community and many Democrats
and many Republicans, that does not mean that it will actually get
done.  (Laughter.)  This is Washington, after all.

So everything tends to be viewed through a political prism and everybody
has been looking at the politics of this.  And I know that there are
some folks in this town who are primed to think, “Well, if Obama is for
it, then I’m against it.”  But I’d remind everybody that my Republican
predecessor was also for it when he proposed reforms like this almost a
decade ago, and I joined with 23 Senate Republicans back then to support
that reform.  I’d remind you that this reform won more than a dozen
Republican votes in the Senate in June.

* * *

Everybody wins here if we work together to get this done.  In fact,
if there’s a good reason not to pass this common-sense reform, I haven’t
heard it. 

So anyone still standing in the way of this bipartisan reform should
at least have to explain why.  A clear majority of the American people
think it’s the right thing to do. 

Now, how do we move forward?  Democratic leaders have introduced a
bill in the House that is similar to the bipartisan Senate bill.  So now
it’s up to Republicans in the House to decide whether reform becomes a
reality or not. 

I do know — and this is good news — that many of them agree that we
need to fix our broken immigration system across these areas that we’ve
just discussed.  And what I’ve said to them, and I’ll repeat today, is
if House Republicans have new and different, additional ideas for how we
should move forward, then we want to hear them.  I’ll be listening.  I
know that Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, those who voted for
immigration reform already, are eager to hear those additional ideas. 
But what we can’t do is just sweep the problem under the rug one more
time, leave it for somebody else to solve sometime in the future.

Rather than create problems, let’s prove to the American people that
Washington can actually solve some problems.  This reform comes as close
to anything we’ve got to a law that will benefit everybody now and far
into the future.  So let’s see if we can get this done.  And let’s see
if we can get it done this year.  (Applause.)

We’ve got the time to do it.  Republicans in the House, including the
Speaker, have said we should act.  So let’s not wait.  It doesn’t get
easier to just put it off.  Let’s do it now.  Let’s not delay.  Let’s
get this done, and let’s do it in a bipartisan fashion.

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