"We are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea, the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny. That’s why centuries of pioneers and immigrants have risked everything to come here…The future is ours to win. But to get there, we cannot stand still, " said President Obama.
President Obama has laid out his vision for winning the future. To secure prosperity for all Americans, we must out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world, and fixing our broken immigration system plays an important part in our plan. As we work to rebuild the economy, our ability to thrive depends, in part, on restoring responsibility and accountability to our immigration system.Stating repeatedly, “Now is the time. Now is the time. Now is the time,” the President said, “I’m here today because the time has come for common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform.
“Most Americans agree that it’s time to fix a system that’s been broken for way too long,” Obama continued, echoing similar words from a June 2011 speech with a similar theme. “I’m here because business leaders, faith leaders, labor leaders, law enforcement, 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 see America as the land of opportunity. Now is the time to do this so we can strengthen our economy and strengthen our country’s future.”
The audience included students and faculty at the high school, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, U.S. House Representatives Steve Horsford and Dina Titus of Nevada and several mayors from across the country.
The President’s immigration reform plan focuses on four areas: a sensible and fair path towards citizenship for illegal immigrants presently living in to the United States, the continued strengthening of border security, greater regulation and penalties for companies which knowingly hire and exploit undocumented workers and a more efficient and streamlined immigration process for those wishing to immigrate to the United States through legal means.
Many undocumented workers live in “a shadow economy, a place where employers may offer them less than the minimum wage or make them work overtime without extra pay,” the President explained, adding, “And when that happens, it’s not just bad for them, it’s bad for the entire economy.”
In addition to the President’s speech, the White House also released on Tuesday an extensive fact sheet discussing the President’s vision on immigration reform fully detailing each of the four principles of the plan.
Despite some GOP Senate support for an immigration reform bill announced on Monday, a critical stumbling point which may delay passage of any immigration reform bill is the insistence from republicans that any path to citizenship for illegal immigrant be contingent upon a vague and presently undefined review board’s approval on U.S. border security. In addition, even if a bill passes in the U.S. Senate, it may not even be brought to a vote in the House of Representatives if far right members who are opposed to any discussion of a path toward citizenship manage to convince Republican House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) not to do so.
In the closing of his speech, President Obama reminded all, “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.
“Throughout our history, that has 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, and who is willing to work hard to do it, and is willing to pledge that allegiance to our flag," said President Obama.