Below is the portion of the President's remarks in which he clearly outlined his four-step solution in 2011 to overhauling U.S. immigration laws.
Remarks by the President on Comprehensive Immigration Reform
El Paso, Texas, May 10, 2011
"... the question is whether those in Congress who previously walked away in the name of enforcement are now ready to come back to the table and finish the work that we’ve started. We’ve got to put the politics aside. And if we do, I’m confident we can find common ground.
Bipartisan Coalition Supports Smart Immigration Reform
"Washington is lagging behind the country on this. There is already a growing coalition of leaders across America who don’t always see eye-to-eye, but are coming together on this issue. They see the harmful consequences of a broken immigration system for their businesses and for their communities, and they understand why we need to act.
"There are Democrats and Republicans, people like former Republican Senator Mel Martinez; former Bush administration Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff; leaders like Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York; evangelical ministers like Leith Anderson and Bill Hybels; police chiefs from across the nation; educators; advocates; labor unions; chambers of commerce; small business owners; Fortune 500 CEOs.
"I mean, one CEO had this to say about reform: 'American ingenuity is a product of the openness and diversity of this society. Immigrants have made America great as the world leader in business, in science, higher education and innovation.' You know who that leader was? Rupert Murdoch, who owns FOX News, and is an immigrant himself. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Rupert Murdoch’s views, but let’s just say he doesn’t have an Obama sticker on his car. But he agrees with me on this.
Four-Step Solution to Fixing U.S. Immigration Laws
"So there is a consensus around fixing what’s broken. And now we need Congress to catch up. Now we need to come together around reform that reflects our values as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants; reform that demands that everybody take responsibility. So what would comprehensive reform look like?
- "First, we know that government has a threshold responsibility to secure our borders and enforce the law. And that’s what Janet and all her folks are doing. That’s what they’re doing.
- "Second, businesses have to be held accountable if they exploit undocumented workers.
- "Third, those who are here illegally, they have a responsibility as well. So they broke the law, and that means they’ve got to pay their taxes, they’ve got to pay a fine, they’ve got to learn English. And they’ve got to undergo background checks and a lengthy process before they get in line for legalization. That’s not too much to ask.
- "And fourth, stopping illegal immigration also depends on reforming our outdated system of legal immigration. We should make it easier for the best and the brightest to not only stay here, but also to start businesses and create jobs here. In recent years, a full 25 percent of high-tech startups in the U.S. were founded by immigrants. That led to 200,000 jobs here in America. I’m glad those jobs are here. I want to see more of them created in this country. We need to provide them the chance.
"Today, the immigration system not only tolerates those who break the rules, but it punishes folks who follow the rules. While applications -- while applicants wait for approval, for example, they’re often forbidden from visiting the United States. Even husbands and wives may have to spend years apart. Parents can’t see their children. I don’t believe the United States of America should be in the business of separating families. That’s not right. That’s not who we are. We can do better than that.
Stop Punishing Young People for Their Parents' Actions "And we should stop punishing innocent young people for the actions of their parents. We should stop denying them the chance to earn an education or serve in the military. And that’s why we need to pass the DREAM Act.
Now, we passed the DREAM Act through the House last year when Democrats were in control. But even though it received a majority of votes in the Senate, it was blocked when several Republicans who had previously supported the DREAM Act voted no.
"That was a tremendous disappointment to get so close and then see politics get in the way. And as I gave that commencement at Miami Dade, it broke my heart knowing that a number of those promising, bright students -- young people who worked so hard and who speak about what’s best in America -- are at risk of facing the agony of deportation.
"These are kids who grew up in this country. They love this country. They know no other place to call home. The idea that we’d punish them is cruel. It makes no sense. We’re a better nation than that.
"So we’re going to keep fighting for the DREAM Act. We’re going to keep up the fight for reform. (Applause.) And that’s where you come in. I’m going to do my part to lead a constructive and civil debate on these issues. And we’ve already had a series of meetings about this at the White House in recent weeks. We’ve got leaders here and around the country helping to move the debate forward."
SOURCE - White House website