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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

OBAMA'S STATEMENT ON IMMIGRATION SUMMIT

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>



THE WHITE HOUSE>>



>



Office of the Press Secretary



__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



For
Immediate
Release                  
                                                                    June
25, 2009



>



REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT



AFTER MEETING WITH MEMBERS OF CONGRESS



TO DISCUSS IMMIGRATION



>



State Dining Room



>



 3:17
P.M. EDT



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THE PRESIDENT: 
Hello, everybody.  We have just
finished what I consider to be a
very productive meeting on one of the most critical issues that I think this
nation faces, and that is an immigration system that is broken and needs
fixing.



We have members of Congress from both chambers, from parties,
who have participated in the meeting and shared a range of ideas.  I think
the consensus is that despite our inability to get this passed over the last
several years, the American people still want to see a solution in which we are
tightening up our borders, or cracking down on employers who are using illegal
workers in order to drive down wages -- and oftentimes mistreat those
workers.  And we need a effective way to recognize and legalize the status
of undocumented workers who are here.



           
Now, this is -- there is not by any means consensus across the table.  As
you can see, we've got a pretty diverse spectrum of folks here.  But what
I'm encouraged by is that after all the overheated rhetoric and the occasional
demagoguery on all sides around this issue, we've got a responsible set of
leaders sitting around the table who want to actively get something done and
not put it off until a year, two years, three years, five years from now, but
to start working on this thing right now.



           
My administration is fully behind an effort to achieve comprehensive
immigration reform.  I have asked my Secretary of the Department of
Homeland Security, Secretary Janet Napolitano, to lead up a group that is going
to be working with a leadership group from both the House and the Senate to
start systematically working through these issues from the congressional
leaders and those with the relevant jurisdiction.  What we've heard is
through a process of regular order, they would like to work through these
issues both in the House and in the Senate.



           
In the meantime, administratively there are a couple of things that our
administration has already begun to do.  The FBI has cleared much of the
backlog of immigration background checks that was really holding up the legal
immigration process.  DHS is already in the process of cracking down on
unscrupulous employers, and, in collaboration with the Department of Labor,
working to protect those workers from exploitation.



           
The Department of Homeland Security has also been making good progress
in speeding up the processing of citizenship petitions, which has been far too
slow for far too long -- and that, by the way, is an area of great consensus,
cuts across Democratic and Republican parties, the notion that we've got to make
our legal system of immigration much more efficient and effective and
customer-friendly than it currently is.



           
Today I'm pleased to announce a new collaboration between my Chief
Information Officer, my Chief Performance Officer, my Chief Technologies
Officer and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Office to make the
agency much more efficient, much more transparent, much more user-friendly than
it has been in the past.



In the next 90 days, USCIS will launch a vastly improved Web
site that will, for the first time ever, allow applicants to get updates on
their status of their applications via e-mail and text message and
online.  And anybody who's dealt with families who are trying to deal with
-- navigate the immigration system, this is going to save them huge amounts of
time standing in line, waiting around, making phone calls, being put on
hold.  It's an example of some things that we can do administratively even
as we're working through difficult issues surrounding comprehensive immigration.



           
And the idea is very simple here:  We're going to leverage
cutting-edge technology to reduce the unnecessary paperwork, backlogs, and the
lack of transparency that's caused so many people so much heartache.



           
Now, we all know that comprehensive immigration reform is
difficult.  We know it's a sensitive and politically volatile issue. 
One of the things that was said around the table is the American people still
don't have enough confidence that Congress and any administration is going to
get serious about border security, and so they're concerned that any
immigration reform simply will be a short-term legalization of undocumented
workers with no long-term solution with respect to future flows of illegal
immigration.



           
What's also been acknowledged is that the 12 million or so undocumented
workers are here -- who are not paying taxes in the ways that we'd like them to
be paying taxes, who are living in the shadows, that that is a group that we
have to deal with in a practical, common-sense way.  And I think the
American people are ready for us to do so.  But it's going to require some
heavy lifting, it's going to require a victory of practicality and common sense
and good policymaking over short-term politics.  That's what I'm committed
to doing as President.



           
I want to especially commend John McCain, who's with me today, because
along with folks like Lindsey Graham, he has already paid a significant
political cost for doing the right thing.  I stand with him, I stand with
Nydia Velázquez and others who have taken leadership on this issue.  I am
confident that if we enter into this with the notion that this is a nation of
laws that have to be observed and this is a nation of immigrants, then we're
going to create a stronger nation for our children and our grandchildren.



           
So thank you all for participating.  I'm looking forward to us
getting busy and getting to work.  All right?  Thank you.



           
Oh, and by the way, I hope everybody has got their Hawaiian shirts --
(laughter) -- and their mumus for our luau tonight.



            END                            
                 3:24
P.M. EDT




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Comments

  1. Legal_Alien_from_Roswell's Avatar
    Bah, all lip service, i don't see any time frame or any sense of urgency, just same ol rhetoric, we can all kiss CIR's backside goodbye for now...and forever.
  2. AD's Avatar
    I guess this is what is going to happen. They are going to give it a shot. But Rahm is just saying so, so that he can say on behalf of the administration "I said so" if CIR gets defeated in either house.
  3. Legal-immigrant's Avatar

    He really didn't say anything new... same old story. I think we will have 4 more years of the previous administration in this matter oh well...
  4. Jack's Avatar
    'legalization of undocumented workers'

    'And we need a effective way to recognize and legalize the status of undocumented workers who are here'

    '12 million or so undocumented workers'


    His words read that it's just 'workers' who get amnesty. He's done this before. Is he just imprecise or playing word games? I think the answer is obvious.


    'One of the things that was said around the table is the American people still don't have enough confidence that Congress and any administration is going to get serious about border security, and so they're concerned that any immigration reform simply will be a short-term legalization of undocumented workers with no long-term solution with respect to future flows of illegal immigration.'

    I can't imagine why they'd think that.

    What is a short-term legalization? He's surely not referring to temporary non-enforcement but amnesty. Amnesty is permanent. It's the promised enforcement people think will be temporary and is completely dependent on the will of the Executive. There is no way to guarantee that after the irrevocable amnesty is granted that anything will be done as far as enforcement--it's a meaningless promise. In fact, the political forces which are categorically against enforcement will be strengthened by the amnesty which will make enforcement more politically difficult going forward. The legal versions of these groups will first attempt to delay and then weaken anything which might help. How do we know? Because they already do this.

    Amnesty sends a message that the U.S. government does not take immigration law seriously so why should you? People need to realize these things before getting their hopes up that CIR would fundamentally change future flows of illegal immigration. There are also all kinds of magnets which will not be addressed at all in CIR.



  5. gg's Avatar
    If Obama takes leadership on this issue and is willing to spend his political capital, then there is a good chance of the passage of this bill this year. He should not make the same mistake as he has with the healthcare bill by leaving it to the house and the congress to come up with the solution.
    As a result the healthcare bill is going through a roller coaster ride.
  6. Jim's Avatar
    Looks like the Energy bill has more chances to pass now than HC reform. The House will be voting on it this Friday and word is Nancy Pelosi really thinks it will pass (by a squeaker) otherwise she won't let it even be on the floor for voting.

    Conflicting reports on CIR as well, with the Whitehouse (via Rahm and Gibbs) downplaying chances but Reid saying he has the votes and now Nancy Pelosi says she can get it done if the Senate passes it first.

    If I am being optimistic, I would say there is some kind of strategy or tactic involved somewhere.


  7. Legal and Suffering's Avatar
    Some politicians will be re-elected...some immigration lawyers will become richer.

    Some illegal immigrants will be legal...some legal immigrants will become illegal.

  8. Legal-immigrant's Avatar
    @Legal and suffereing
    "some legal immigrants will become illegal."

    haha.. well said... and dont forget "most legal immigrants will go broke paying USCIS and the lawyers... "
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