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Barack Obama's Courageous Speech on Immigration Reform

"This is not who we are as a country."


Barack Obama's Courageous Speech on Immigration Reform

"Under the new system, just a few of the current family preferences would be retained in any recognizable form. Spouses and children of U.S. citizens would still be able to come.

Bush Plan: Foreign-Born Parents of U.S. Citizens Denied Residency

"However, parents of U.S. citizens would no longer be counted as immediate families, and thus most parents seeking to join their children and grandchildren in the United States would be denied green cards. The rest of the current family preferences – siblings, adult children, and many parents -- would be eviscerated.

"The new points system also would eliminate employment-based green cards altogether, forcing employers recruiting workers abroad to rely exclusively on short-term H-1B and Y visas. This proposal takes an admittedly problematic, employment-based visa system and replaces it with a far more problematic, temporary worker program.

Pushing Latino Workers to the Back of an Endless Line

"The design of the points system leaves numerous questions unanswered. Beyond pushing workers from Latin America to the back of an endless line, with no hope of ever reaching the front, the new points system leaves unspecified the crucial question of how migrants with sufficient points will be prioritized.

"Government bureaucrats would thus be left with unprecedented discretion to determine which immigrants have acceptable education, employment history, and work experience to merit admission into the country.

"Taken together, the questionable design of this points program and the fundamental shift away from family preferences in the allocation of visas raise enough red flags that we should not simply rubber stamp this proposal and allow it to go forward.

"Let me be clear: Senators Menendez, Feingold, and I are not proposing to strike the program from the bill. But this system should be revisited after a reasonable amount of time to determine whether it’s working, how it can be improved, and whether we should return to the current family and employer based system that has worked so well.

This Is Not Who We Are as a Country

"We live in a global economy, and I do believe that America will be strengthened if we welcome more immigrants who have mastered science and engineering.

"But, we cannot weaken the very essence of what America is by turning our backs on immigrants who want to reunite with their family members, or immigrants who have a willingness to work hard but who may not have the right graduate degrees.

"This is not who we are as a country.

"Should those without graduate degrees who spoke Italian or Polish or German, instead of English, have been turned back at Ellis Island?

"Should the immigrants from Asia who arrived at Angel Island to build our railroads have been told that they could only come for two years because they had no hope of passing a points test?

"How many of our ancestors would have been allowed to enter the U.S. under this new system?

America Does Not Have a Caste or Class Based Society

"Character and work ethic have long defined generations of immigrants to America. But these qualities are beyond the scope of this bill’s points system.

"It tells us nothing about what people who have been without opportunity can achieve once they are here.

"It tells us nothing about the potential of their children to serve and to lead.

"We are Americans. We do not have a caste or class based society, and we do not need a caste or class based immigration system.

"In short, the points system raises some serious concerns for me.

"Now, I’m willing to defer to those senators who negotiated this provision and say we should give this a try. But I’m not willing to say that this untested system should be made virtually permanent.

"For that reason, I urge my colleagues to support this common-sense amendment to sunset this points system after five years so we can examine its effectiveness and necessity."

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