Excerpts from President Obama's speech on immigration reform today in Las Vegas:
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. Now, 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.
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. All right.
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.
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.
For example, if you are a citizen, you shouldn’t have to wait years before your family is able to join you in America.
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 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. And throughout our history, that’s 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, who’s willing to work hard to do it, who’s willing to pledge that allegiance to our flag.
Read the entire speech at Washington Post.