President Barack Obama put out a call today:
“Finishing the job of fixing a broken immigration system… This is not an idea whose time has come, this is an idea that has been around for years now… And this is a moment when we should be able to get the job done.”
Democrats and Republicans “have some fundamental disagreements,” he said in a speech in the East Room of the White House today surrounded by advocates of an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws. Yet “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.”
“It doesn’t make sense to have 11 million people who are in this country illegaly without any incentive or any way for them to come out of the shadows … and permit their families to move ahead,” he said.
The Senate-passed bill proposes toughened border security, expanded visas for guest workers and students, workplace enforcement of immigration laws and a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented. House Speaker John Boehner said this week that he hopes his chamber will take up immigration this year, though leaders within his party have proposed smaller pieces of legislation — and resist the citizenship push.
“We have kicked this particular can down the road for too long,” the president said — “the good news,” he said, is the Senate has approved a bill with a bipartisan vote. Just because something is smart, good for the economy, backed by the business community, evangelicals and others, he said with a smile, “that doesn’t mean it will actually get done. This is Washington, after all.”
If House Republicans “have new and different ideas for how we want to move forward, I want to hear them,” he said. “But what we can’t do is just sweep the problem down the rug one more time, leave it for somebody else… In the future.”
It’s time to prove that Washington cannot only create problems, the president said — the government can also solve them.
“You look fired up,” he told a supportive audience, invoking a theme from his camapaigns. “I’m going to be right next to you.”