Just a day after a bipartisan measure was introduced to reform immigration in the U.S., President Barack Obama spoke to a crowd in Las Vegas about his plans to push immigration reform forward.
"I'm here today because the time has come for common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform. We define ourselves as a nation of immigrants, that's who we are in our bones."
Obama also said that not addressing immigration reform was holding the economy back.
The key principles the President believes should be included in the reform plan are as followed:
Continuing to Strengthen Border Security: President Obama has doubled the number of Border Patrol agents since 2004 and today border security is stronger than it has ever been. But there is more work to do. The President’s proposal gives law enforcement the tools they need to make our communities safer from crime. And by enhancing our infrastructure and technology, the President’s proposal continues to strengthen our ability to remove criminals and apprehend and prosecute national security threats.
Cracking Down on Employers Hiring Undocumented Workers: Our businesses should only employ people legally authorized to work in the United States. Businesses that knowingly employ undocumented workers are exploiting the system to gain an advantage over businesses that play by the rules. The President’s proposal is designed to stop these unfair hiring practices and hold these companies accountable. At the same time, this proposal gives employers who want to play by the rules a reliable way to verify that their employees are here legally.
Earned Citizenship: It is just not practical to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants living within our borders. The President’s proposal provides undocumented immigrants a legal way to earn citizenship that will encourage them to come out of the shadows so they can pay their taxes and play by the same rules as everyone else. Immigrants living here illegally must be held responsible for their actions by passing national security and criminal background checks, paying taxes and a penalty, going to the back of the line, and learning English before they can earn their citizenship. There will be no uncertainty about their ability to become U.S. citizens if they meet these eligibility criteria. The proposal will also stop punishing innocent young people brought to the country through no fault of their own by their parents and give them a chance to earn their citizenship more quickly if they serve in the military or pursue higher education.
Streamlining Legal Immigration: Our immigration system should reward anyone who is willing to work hard and play by the rules. For the sake of our economy and our security, legal immigration should be simple and efficient. The President’s proposal attracts the best minds to America by providing visas to foreign entrepreneurs looking to start businesses here and helping the most promising foreign graduate students in science and math stay in this country after graduation, rather than take their skills to other countries. The President’s proposal will also reunify families in a timely and humane manner.
The President's speech focused on his own framework for immigration reform, which largely aligns with the broad principles put forward by the Gang of Eight (the Senators who introduced the measure yesterday).
Obama will press for immediate action, but not a specific timeline, according to one official. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a member of the bipartisan senate group, said earlier on Monday that the senators hope for a bill in March or April, and then a vote by late spring or early summer.
SOURCE: Washington Post