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Weekly Address: President Obama “It’s time to pass commonsense immigration reform”

From the White House – Weekly Address

In this week’s address, President Obama says that the United States Senate will soon take action to fix our broken immigration system with a commonsense bill, and urges lawmakers to act quickly to pass this bill so that we can continue to live up to our traditions as a nation of laws, and also a nation of immigrants.

Transcript: Time to Pass Commonsense Immigration Reform

Hi, everybody.  In the next few days, America will take an important step towards fixing our broken immigration system.  The entire United States Senate will begin debating a commonsense immigration reform bill that has bipartisan support.

See, we define ourselves as a nation of immigrants.  The promise we find in those who come from every corner of the globe has always been one of our greatest strengths.  It’s kept our workforce vibrant and dynamic.  It’s kept our businesses on the cutting edge.  And it’s helped build the greatest economic engine the world has ever known.

But for years, our out-of-date immigration system has actually harmed our economy and threatened our security.

Now, over the past four years, we’ve taken steps to try and patch up some of the worst cracks in the system.

We strengthened security on the southern border by putting more boots on the ground than at any time in our history.  And, in part, by using technology more effectively – today, illegal crossings are near their lowest level in decades.    

We focused enforcement efforts on criminals who are here illegally – who endanger our communities – and today, we deport more criminals than ever before.

And we took up the cause of “Dreamers,” the young people who were brought to this country as children.  We said that if they’re able to meet certain criteria, we’d consider offering them the chance to come out of the shadows so they can continue to work here, and study here, and contribute to our communities legally.

But if we’re going to truly fix a broken system, we need Congress to act in a comprehensive way.  And that’s why what’s happening next week is so important.

The bill before the Senate isn’t perfect.  It’s a compromise.  Nobody will get everything they want – not Democrats, not Republicans, not me.  But it is a bill that’s largely consistent with the principles I’ve repeatedly laid out for commonsense immigration reform.

This bill would continue to strengthen security at our borders, increase criminal penalties against smugglers and traffickers, and hold employers more accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers.  If enacted, it would represent the most ambitious enforcement plan in recent memory.

This bill would provide a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are in this country illegally – a pathway that includes passing a background check, learning English, paying taxes and a penalty, and then going to the back of the line behind everyone who’s playing by the rules and trying to come here legally.  

This bill would modernize the legal immigration system so that, alongside training American workers for the jobs of tomorrow, we’re also attracting highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers who will grow our economy.  And so that our people don’t have to wait years before their loved ones are able to join them in this country we love.

That’s what immigration reform looks like.  Smarter enforcement.  A pathway to earned citizenship.  Improvements to the legal immigration system.   They’re all commonsense steps.  They’ve got broad support – from Republicans and Democrats, CEOs and labor leaders, law enforcement and clergy.  So there is no reason that Congress can’t work together to send a bill to my desk by the end of the summer.

We know the opponents of reform are going to do everything they can to prevent that.  They’ll try to stoke fear and create division.  They’ll try to play politics with an issue that the vast majority of Americans want addressed.  And if they succeed, we will lose this chance to finally fix an immigration system that is badly broken.    

So if you agree that now is the time for commonsense reform, reach out to your Representatives.  Tell them we have to get this done so that everyone is playing by the same rules.  Tell them we have the power to do this in a way that lives up to our traditions as a nation of laws, and a nation of immigrants.

In the end, that’s what this is all about.  Men and women who want nothing more than the chance to earn their way into the American story, just like so many of our ancestors did.  Throughout our history, that has only made us stronger.  And it’s how we’ll make sure that America’s best days always lie ahead.

Thanks.  And have a great weekend.  

Bolding added.


Editor’s Note: The President’s Weekly Address diary is also the weekend open news thread. Feel free to leave links to other news items in the comment threads.


  1. Last summer, President Obama took action to give more than a million young people a shot at the American Dream when he announced “deferred action” — providing legal protection for undocumented young people who were brought to America through no fault of their own.

    These are the “DREAMers,” named after the DREAM Act.

    And yesterday, 224 members of the House of Representatives, including almost every Republican, voted to take that protection away and resume the deportations.

    Congress needs to know that the American people don’t support that — and the hopeful young people they’ve now put in jeopardy need to know it, too.

    Add your name to say you stand with the DREAMers today — and let’s double down in our fight for comprehensive immigration reform.

    Imagine you’ve done everything right your entire life — grown up in a community, gone to school, played by the rules, and broken no laws. But you suddenly face the threat of deportation to a country that you know nothing about with a language that you might not even speak.

    That’s wrong. That’s not who we are.

    These young people were brought to this country as kids, through no fault of their own. They have seen what’s best about this country. That’s why they so desperately want to be a part of it.

    If you think these DREAMers deserve a fair shot, add your name to say you’re going to fight for them — and for comprehensive immigration reform today:



    Emmy Ruiz

  2. Hanging Out with High Tech Classrooms

    On Thursday, President Obama travelled to Mooresville, NC to announce ConnectEd, an exciting new initiative designed to help bring America’s students into the digital age.  The goal of the ConnectED initiative is to bring high-speed internet connections to 99% of America’s students within five years.[…]

    With only 20% of educators reporting that their classrooms have the connectivity to meet their teaching needs, that means thousands of schools are missing out on the kinds of opportunities that can be seen at [these schools]. With President Obama’s ConnectED announcement today, we will be investing in bringing the most modern, innovative and up-to-date content and technology into all of America’s classrooms, and giving our young people the best education in the world so they can compete for jobs in the global economy.  

  3. Here’s How the Affordable Care Act Is Helping Californians

    First, for those who already have health insurance, President Obama explained that the law has already provided a wide array of new benefits, better protections and stronger cost controls they didn’t have before.

    “Protections, like allowing people up to the age of 26 to stay on their parent’s health care plans, which has already helped 6 million Americans,” President Obama said. “Cost controls, like requiring insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of the money that you pay in premiums in your actual health care costs, as opposed to administrative costs or CEO pay.”

    Second, for the tens of millions of Americans – including 6 million Californians – who don’t currently have health insurance, “you’ll soon be able to buy quality, affordable care just like everybody else,” President Obama said today. “And here’s how.”

       States like California are setting up new, online marketplaces where, beginning on October 1st of this year, you can comparison shop an array of private health insurance plans side-by-side, just like you were going online to compare cars or airline tickets.  And that means insurance companies will actually have to compete with each other for your business.  And that means new choices.

    The 13 insurance companies that will be part of the California marketplace, known as Covered California, were selected based on access, quality, and affordability, President Obama said.

  4. Mitt Romney campaign retrospective

    “The employment rate dropped below 8% for the first time just weeks before the election. That changed the national mood, the media celebrated that. Had it stayed above 8%, that would have made a difference.”

    I am not sure I have ever seen a national politician publicly bemoaning that unemployment dropped and, worse!, the media celebrating it!!! Curse you, media, for wrecking Mitt Romney’s chances by reporting the news of reduced unemployment as POSITIVE!! What were you thinking???

    Of course, this is the guy who had no qualms about calling retired people on social security and military pensions as the 47% mooching off the government.

    Please Please Please get off the national stage, Mitt Romney. Your incredible selfishness is an embarrassment to your country.  

  5. smartypants: On politics and trust

    I’ve been watching Barack Obama closely for almost six years now. And other than Wellstone, I can’t think of a national politician I trust more. That trust doesn’t mean I agree with him on everything – that’s a whole different issue. It means that I believe he is truly reflecting the picture he sees (a lot of which I can’t see from my vantage point). And when things emerge that look like they might shatter that trust, I wait until I get more information to fill in the bigger picture. Every time that has happened, my trust has been vindicated – and that means its grown over time.

    That’s one of the reasons I’m proud to embrace the label Obamabot. Just like most of us, I’ve had a natural inclination over time to distrust politicians. My experience tells me that this is a truly unique situation we’re in right now. And so I’m committed to making the most we can out of it. We are not likely to have another president like this in my lifetime.

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