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Obama on Immigration: Calls for Unity on Divisive Issue, Derides GOP Inaction

4 years ago
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In a broad, emotionally forceful speech, President Obama urged lawmakers to come together to reform the country's "broken immigration system." The president spared no rhetorical flourish in his appeal Thursday, invoking the Latin phrase e pluribus unum -- "out of many, one" -- and recalling the image of the Statue of Liberty, greeting new arrivals to America as a beacon of the country's hope and prosperity.

Obama, in a speech at American University, sought to unify the country over what has become a divisive, emotional topic. He tried to deal with extreme views on both sides. To those calling for blanket amnesty for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants inside the U.S., Obama "recognized the sense of compassion," but called the approach "unwise and unfair." To those seeking more punitive measures including deportation, the president said such an effort would be logistically impossible and would "tear at the very fabric of our nation." He addressed Arizona's controversial new immigration law, but did not chastise those who back it, saying the measures taken by the state were "understandable," but also "ill-conceived."
President Obama
Instead, Obama outlined his solutions (many of which he has asked for in previous statements), including holding businesses accountable for hiring and exploiting illegal immigrants, and demanding "responsibility from those living here illegally." They should admit they have violated the law, he said, register, pay back taxes and fines for their violations, and learn English. Obama repeated that those in the country illegally must "get right with the law before they get in line. This is how we demonstrate what being an American means. Being a citizen of this country comes not only with rights but also with certain fundamental responsibilities."

Obama also called for reform of the broken system of legal immigration in the U.S., highlighting current improvements but calling for further action, including making "it easier for the best and the brightest to come to start businesses and develop products and create jobs," and repealing laws that punish the children of illegal immigrants. He cited the DREAM Act in particular as one means of resolving this issue.

The president was specific in his criticisms of why reform had not yet passed, pointing the finger squarely at Republicans in Congress who he said had either abandoned the effort, or decided to sit on the sidelines. He spoke specifically to GOP leaders, including Sen Lindsey Graham (R-S.C) and 10 other Republicans who had previously supported reform legislation in Congress, saying, "I believe we can put politics aside and finally have an immigration system that is accountable." The president continued, "I believe we can appeal not to people's fears, but to their hopes, to their highest ideals, because that's who we are as Americans."

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gking3n10

Obama wants the lead on Immigration Reform BUT has done nothing. He ignors the real problem which includes drug trafficing, human trafficing and the failure of the Fed Govt to put criminals in jail or deport them for good. Where has the media been in terms of showing the other side of the immigration protest -- showing the signs of protesters which say "Give us free Healthcare, Jobs, No Taxes, Houses, Food -- You owe US America -- We will kill more police until we get Free" Does this sound like a reasonable request. I have the picture of the sign and that is exactly what it says. That is the mindset - not just to keep families together - it is far broader issues that AZ is addressing.

July 30 2010 at 3:10 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ellingt5

He calls for unity and then slams republicans. Someone needs to explain to him how you reach bipartisan consensus. Just because he says it is so does not make him right. His lack of respect for the American people and our elected officials is very offensive!

July 06 2010 at 9:36 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
vivralafrance

the GOP according to some may be inactive, YET please always remember the bold, decisive , strong action taken by RONALD REAGAN, when he gave amnesty to 3 MILLION illegals ! An action that has created most of the problem we have today !! The GOP is often know for their strong action, such as a preemptive war against Iraq, the first time in US history we began a war !

July 06 2010 at 2:28 PM Report abuse -11 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to vivralafrance's comment
gtheel

Its not the GOP who is trying to sue Arizona for there new laws that are less strict then the Federal laws that the current administration has been sworn to uphold. Its not the GOP who recently gave the Department of labor the go ahead to initiate phone lines for the illegals to call and complain about not receiving minimum wage for there illegal jobs. Its not the GOP who made absolutely sure that no ID would be required to use any Government health care , and its definetely not the GOP who do not want the border sealed.

July 06 2010 at 5:17 PM Report abuse +11 rate up rate down Reply
AZ Stang

We don't have to deport them, dude. Arizona's law has already started making them leave on their own. It's called attrition.

July 25 2010 at 9:33 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
getgary01

There is unity on the issue. Most Americans want to send them home. Obama is the one not in unity.

July 05 2010 at 7:18 PM Report abuse +14 rate up rate down Reply
bobobill1058

The Immigration laws should be president Obama our doors are close. Go home and build your own factors, companys and make your own jobs like we did. The jobs we have here are for our kids who comes first. And to the people who own the companys and factorys and our goverment if you believe a person can live on 7.25 cent a hour than you can to.

July 05 2010 at 5:31 PM Report abuse +11 rate up rate down Reply
punnster

Will Obama only put up more of those signs IN ENGLISH warning illegal immigrants to stay out?

July 05 2010 at 1:24 PM Report abuse +12 rate up rate down Reply
flyingfortresb17

to firstad: the president sending 1200 national guard troops to the border but that have not arrived and they are divided into Texas, New Mexico and California. When they arrive on site they cannot apprehend any illegals as they have to report the movment to the ICE agents nearby. Now divid what was sent to each state into 4's as they each cannot stay awake, eat and groom themselves all at once. some will have to sleep and others maintain equipment. when one gets sick for any reason then it will take atleast one other to stay with him until medical help arrives. then there are some that will be a supply train bringing in food and water to isloated places. soooooo how many do we actually have to watch the line in the deserts of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona? BRING HOME THE TROPPS FROM IRAQ TO HELP OUT. TRAIN ALL OF THEM FOR IMMIGRATION APPREHENSION AND LAW. MAKE THEM POSSE COMITATIS1

July 04 2010 at 1:03 PM Report abuse +16 rate up rate down Reply
flyingfortresb17

The opponets of reform are not just the some Republicans in congress but also those democrats that are afraid if they actually vote and passed a binding and lasting reform that the Hispanic voter would toss them out on their ears. Just how many states are there that have an overwhelming hispanic voting contingent? California? New Mexico? Florida? What happens when the American voter get tired of paying for treatment of illegal aliens in the county hospitals? What happens when the American voter gets tired of not having a job that has been taken by an illegal alien? What happens when the American voter gets tired of all the human smuggling and narco-violence? We are not doing our job either by voting for ineffectual representatives who occupy a seat in congress and do nothing about helping out the legitimate American voter and legal alien who followed all the rules in an attempt to gain legal citizenship. As you have seen we have representatives that are only interested in being seated with a good pay check, excellant health benefits and a retirement package that any worker with 30-40 years is entitled to at the end of their work.

July 04 2010 at 12:31 PM Report abuse +19 rate up rate down Reply
flyingfortresb17

to ERIC; where have you been the last few months that you cannot see how much violence is on the border? We have had agents shot at, thrown rocks at (palm sized rocks), and physically assaulted. We have had bullets flying across the border striking our City hall causing panic inside (El Paso, Texas) agents killed in California and Arizona by smugglers and drugs cartel gangs, U.S. Consular workers killed ( Juarez,CHIH-- across from El Paso) How many human smugglers have ended up killing the illegals that they transport throught California and Arizona when they roll the vans over because of overloading or fleeing apprehension by the border patrol? If you don't call that violence then you are as blind as LULAC and ACLU and The Democratic National Committee who is trying to court the Hispanic voter.

July 04 2010 at 11:57 AM Report abuse +15 rate up rate down Reply
m5ward

Many of the immigrants who are here illegally simply don't want to become American citizens. This seems to be particularly true of those who have flooded through from Mexico. They still hold their language, country, and flag above those of America.
Arizona has gotten it right. They took a law that is already on the books (federally)and intend to enforce it. What exactly is the point of having laws if no one abides by them?
I was really hoping that Obama would be able to unite this country; but we have never been more divided. It no longer matters what the majority wants, it's only what Obama wants. I miss my country.

July 02 2010 at 7:40 PM Report abuse +28 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to m5ward's comment
Eric

Many people who cross the boarder may not want to become American citizens (considering how Americans seem to be treating them, who could blame them?); however, they are coming to get jobs to have money to send back to their families...it is what people have been doing in the United States since before we were even a nation. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there with an agenda who are trying to frighten you. The reality is...there are much fewer people crossing the boarder, there is no "boarder violence" threatening Americans, and Arizona's (and the US's for that matter) economic woes are not because of "illegal immigrants."

July 02 2010 at 8:04 PM Report abuse -28 rate up rate down Reply

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