(WASHINGTON) — President Barack Obama urged congress to work together to reform The United States’ “broken immigration system,” in his weekly address.
The president began by saying that, for a country that describes itself as a “nation of immigrants,” America’s immigration system is woefully out-of-date and has “actually harmed our economy and threatened our security.”
He then highlighted some of the improvements that have been made over the past four years, including strengthening the border, cracking down on criminals in the country illegally, and helping those who were brought into the country as children.
However, the president said, “to truly fix a broken system, we need Congress to act in a comprehensive way. And that’s why what’s happening next week is so important.”
Obama outlined what the bill about to go before Congress would do, noting that while it isn’t perfect, it was a compromise that Democrats and Republicans could support and was consistent with commonsense reform.
The bill would provide a pathway to earned citizenship for the more than 11 million individuals currently living in the country illegally. This pathway, the president said, would include passing a background check, paying taxes, learning English and then “going to the back of the line behind everyone who’s playing by the rules and trying to come here legally.”
Obama said the bill was “the most ambitious enforcement plan in recent memory,” and would continue to strengthen the borders and enact harsher penalties for smugglers, traffickers and employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers.
If passed, the bill would also modernize the legal immigration system.
“We know the opponents of reform are going to do everything they can to prevent that,” Obama warned. “They’ll try to stoke fear and create division. They’ll try to play politics with an issue that the vast majority of Americans want addressed. And if they succeed, we will lose this chance to finally fix an immigration system that is badly broken.
The president urged American’s to contact their representatives to “tell them we have to get this done so that everyone is playing by the same rules. Tell them we have the power to do this in a way that lives up to our traditions as a nation of laws, and a nation of immigrants.”
“In the end, that’s what this is all about,” he concluded. “Men and women who want nothing more than the chance to earn their way into the American story, just like so many of our ancestors did. Throughout our history, that has only made us stronger. And it’s how we’ll make sure that America’s best days always lie ahead.”
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