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← Watch: President Obama announces sweeping immigration reform

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Showing Revision 12 created 02/23/2017 by Rita Logue.

  1. My fellow Americans
  2. Tonight I'd like to talk with you about immigration
  3. For more than 200 years
  4. our tradition of welcoming immigrants

  5. from around the world
  6. has given us a tremendous advantage
    over other nations
  7. It's kept us youthful, dynamic, and
    entrepreneurial.
  8. It has shaped our character as a people
    with limitless possibilites
  9. people not trapped by our past
    but able to remake ourselves as we choose
  10. But today our immigration system is broken
  11. and everybody knows it
  12. Families who enter our country the right
    way and play by the rules
  13. watch others flout the rules
  14. Business owners who offer the
  15. workers good wages and benefits
  16. see the competition exploit undocumented
  17. immigrants by paying them far less
  18. All of us take offence to anyone
  19. who reaps the rewards
  20. of living in America
  21. without taking on the responsibilities
  22. of living in America
  23. And undocumented immigrants
  24. who desperately want to
    embrace those responsibilites
  25. see little option but to remain
    in the shadows
  26. or risk their families
    being torn apart
  27. it"s been this way for decades
  28. And for decades we haven't done
    much about it
  29. When I took office I committed
  30. to fixing this broken immigration system
  31. And I began by doing what i could to
    secure our borders
  32. Today we have more agents and
    technology
  33. deployed to secure our southern
    border
  34. than at any time in our history
  35. and over the past six years
  36. illegal border crossings have been cut
    by more than half
  37. Although this summer there
    was a brief spike
  38. in unaccompanied children being
  39. apprehended at our border
  40. the number of such children
    is now actually lower than
  41. its been in nearly two years
  42. Overall the number of people trying
    to cross our border illegally
  43. is at its lowest level since the 1970s
  44. Those are the facts
  45. Meanwhile i worked with congress on a
    comprehensive fix
  46. and last year, 68 Democrats, Republicans
    and Independents
  47. came together to pass a
    bipartisan bill in the Senate
  48. It wasn't perfect
  49. it was a compromise
  50. but it reflected common sense
  51. it would've doubled the number
    of border patrol agents
  52. while giving undocumented immigrants
    a pathway to citizenship
  53. if they paid a fine,
    started paying their taxes
  54. and went to the back of the line
  55. And independent experts said
    that it would help grow our economy
  56. and shrink our deficits
  57. Had the House of Representatives
    allowed that kind of bill
  58. a simple yes or no vote
  59. it would've passed with
    support from both parties
  60. and today it would be the law
  61. but for a year and a half now
  62. republican leaders in the house
  63. have refused to allow that simple vote
  64. Now I continue to believe that
    the best way to solve this problem
  65. is by working together to pass
    that kind of common sense law
  66. But until that happens,
  67. there are actions I have the
    legal authority to take as President
  68. the same kind of actions taken
    by democratic and republican
  69. presidents before me
  70. that will help make our immigration
    system more fair and more just
  71. Tonight I'm announcing those actions
  72. First, we'll build our progress
    at the border
  73. with additional resources for
    our law enforcement personnel
  74. so that they can stand the flow
    of illegal crossings
  75. and speed the return of those
    who do cross over
  76. Second, I'll make it easier
    and faster for high skilled
  77. immigrants, graduates and
    entrepreneurs to stay and
  78. contribute to our economy
  79. as so many business leaders
    had proposed
  80. Third, We'll take steps to deal
    responsibly with the millions
  81. of undocumented immigrants who
  82. already live in our country
  83. I want to say more about this third isssue
  84. because it generates the most passion
    and controversy
  85. Even as we are a nation of immigrants
  86. we're also a nations of laws
  87. Undocumented workers broke our
    immigration laws
  88. and I believe that they must be
    held accountable
  89. especially those who may be dangerous.
  90. That's why over the past six years
  91. deportations of criminals are up
    80 percent
  92. And that's why we're going to keep
  93. focusing enforcement resources
  94. on actual threats to our security
  95. Felons not families, criminals
    not children
  96. gang members not a mom who's
    working hard to provide for her kids
  97. We'll prioritise just like law enforcement
    does every day
  98. But even as we focus on
    deporting criminals
  99. the fact is millions of immigrants
    in every state
  100. of every race and nationality
  101. still live here illegally .
  102. And let's be honest
  103. Tracking down, rounding up

  104. and deporting millions of people
    isn't realistic
  105. Anyone who suggests otherwise
  106. isn't being straight with you
  107. It's also not who we are as Americans
  108. After all most of these immigrants
  109. have been here a long time
  110. They work hard often in
    tough low paying jobs
  111. They support their families
  112. they worship at our churches
  113. Many of their kids are American born
  114. or spent most of their lives here.
  115. And their hopes dreams and patriotism
  116. are just like ours.
  117. As my predecessor President Bush
    once put it
  118. They are a part of American life
  119. Now here's the thing
  120. We expect people who live in this country
    to play by the rules
  121. We expect that those who cut the line
  122. will not be unfairly rewarded
  123. So we're going to offer the following deal
  124. If you've been in America for more
    than five years
  125. If you have children who are
    American citizens or
  126. legal residents
  127. If you register, pass a
    criminal background check
  128. and you're willing to pay
    your fair share of taxes
  129. You'll be able to apply
    to stay in this country
  130. temporarily without fear of deportation
  131. You can come out of the shadows
  132. and get right with the law
  133. That's what this deal is.
  134. Now let's be clear about what it isn't
  135. This deal does not apply to anyone
  136. who has come to this country
    recently
  137. It does not apply to anyone
  138. who might come to America
  139. illegally in the future
  140. It does not grant citizenship
  141. or the right to stay here
    permanantly
  142. or offer the same benefits
  143. that citizens receive
  144. Only Congress can do that
  145. All we're saying is that we're
    not going to deport you
  146. I know some of the critics of this
    action
  147. call it amnesty
  148. Well it's not
  149. Amnesty is the immigration system
    we have today
  150. Millions of people who live here

  151. without paying their taxes or
    playing by the rules
  152. while Politicians use the
    issue to scare people
  153. and whip votes at election time
  154. That's the real amnesty
  155. leaving this broken system
    the way it is
  156. Mass amnesty would be unfair.
  157. Mass deportation would be both impossible
    and contrary to our character
  158. What I'm describing is accountability
  159. A common sense middle ground approach
  160. If you meet the criteria ,
  161. you can come out of the shadows
    and get right with the law
  162. If you're a criminal, you'll be deported
  163. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally
  164. your chances of getting caught and
    sent back just went up
  165. The actions I'm taking are not
    only lawful
  166. They're the kinds of actions
    taken
  167. by every single republican
    president
  168. and every single democratic president
  169. for the past half century
  170. And to those members of congress
    who question my authority
  171. to make our immigration
    system work better
  172. or question the wisdom of me acting
  173. where congress has failed
  174. I have one answer
  175. Pass a bill
  176. I want to work with both parties
  177. to pass a more permanent
  178. legislative solution
  179. And the day i sign that bill into law
  180. The actions I take will no longer
  181. be necessary
  182. Meanwhile don't let a disagreement
  183. over a single issue
  184. be a deal breaker on every issue
  185. That's not how our democracy works.
  186. And congress certainly shouldn't
  187. shut down our government again
  188. just because we disagree on this.
  189. Americans are tired of grid lock
  190. What our country needs from us
    right now
  191. is a common purpose
  192. a higher purpose
  193. Most americans support the types of
  194. reforms i've talked about tonight
  195. But i understand the disagreements held
  196. by many of you at home.
  197. Millions of us, myself included
  198. go back generations in this country
  199. with ancestors who put in the
  200. painstaking work to become citizens
  201. So we don't want like the
    notion that
  202. anyone might get a free pass to
  203. American citizenship
  204. I know some worry immigration
  205. will change the very fabric of
    who we are
  206. or take our jobs or stick it to
  207. middle class families at a time
  208. when they already feel like
  209. they've gotten the raw deal
    for over a decade.
  210. I hear those concerns.
  211. But that's not what these steps
    would do
  212. Our history and the facts show that
  213. immigrants are a net plus for our economy
  214. and our society
  215. and I believe it's important that
    all of us have this debate
  216. without impugning each other's
    characters
  217. because for all the back and forth
    of Washington
  218. We have to remember that this
    debate is about something bigger
  219. It's about who we are as a country
  220. and who we want to be for future
    generations
  221. Are we a nation that tolerates
    the hypocrisy
  222. of a system where workers who
    pick our fruit,
  223. make our beds, never have a
    chance to
  224. get right with the law.
  225. or are we a nation that
    gives them a chance
  226. to make amends, take responsibility
  227. and give their kids a better future
  228. Are we a nation that accepts the
  229. cruelty of ripping children
    from their parents arms?
  230. or are we a nation that values families ?
  231. and works together to keep them
    together
  232. Are we a nation that educates the
  233. world's best and brightest
    in our universities
  234. only to send them to create businesses
  235. in countries that compete against us?
  236. or are we a nation that encourages them
    to stay
  237. and create jobs here, create businesses
    here
  238. create industries right here in America
  239. That's what this debate is all about.
  240. We need more than politics as usual
  241. when it comes to immigration
  242. We need reasoned, thoughtful,
  243. compassionate debate
  244. that focuses on our hopes
  245. not our fears
  246. I know the politics of this issue
    are tough
  247. But let me tell you why I have
    come to feel
  248. so strongly about it.
  249. Over the past years I've seen
    the determination of immigrant fathers
  250. who worked 2 or 3 jobs
  251. without taking a dime from the government
  252. and at risk any moment of
    losing it all
  253. just to build a better life for
    their kids
  254. I've seen the heartbreak and
    anxiety of children
  255. whose mothers might be taken
    away from them
  256. just because they didn't have the
    right papers
  257. I've seen the courage of students who
  258. except for their circumstances of
    their birth
  259. are as american as Malia or Sasha
  260. Students who bravely come out
  261. as undocumented in hopes they could
    make a difference
  262. in the country they love.
  263. These people are neighbours, our
    class mates, our friends
  264. they did not come here in search
  265. of a free ride or an easy life
  266. they came to work, and study
    and serve in our military
  267. and above all contribute to America's
    success
  268. Now tomorrow I'll travel to Las Vegas
  269. and meet with some of these students
  270. including a young woman named
    Astrid Silva
  271. Astrid was brought to America when
    she was 4 years old
  272. Her only possessions were a cross
    her doll
  273. and the frilly dress she had on
  274. When she started school , she
    didn't speak any English
  275. She caught up to other kids
    by reading newspapers
  276. and watching PBS
  277. and she became a good student
  278. Her father worked in landscaping
  279. Her mom cleaned other people's
    homes
  280. They wouldn't let Astrid apply to a
  281. technology magnet school
  282. not because they didn't love her but
    because they were afraid
  283. the paper work would out her as
    an undocumented immigrant
  284. So she applied behind their back
    and got in
  285. Still she mostly lived in the shadows
  286. until her grandmother who visited every
    year from Mexico passed away
  287. and she couldn't travel to the funeral
  288. without risk of being found out
    and deported
  289. It was around that time she decided
    to begin
  290. advocating for herself and
    others like her
  291. And today Astrid Silva is a college
    student
  292. working on her third degree.
  293. Are we a nation that kicks out
    a striving, hopeful immigrant
  294. like Astrid
  295. or are we a nation that finds
    a way to welcome her in
  296. Scripture tells us that we shall
    not oppress a stranger
  297. for we know the heart of a stranger
  298. We were strangers once too
  299. My fellow Americans
  300. We are and always will be a nation
    of immigrants
  301. We were strangers once too
  302. and whether our forebears or strangers
    who cross the Atlantic or the Pacific
  303. or the Rio Grande
  304. We are here only because
    this country welcomed them in
  305. and taught them that to be an
    American is about something more
  306. than what we look like, or what
    our last names are
  307. or how we worship.
  308. What makes us Americans is
    our shared commitment to
  309. an ideal
  310. that all of us are created equally
  311. and all of us have the chance to make
  312. of our lives what we will
  313. That's the country that our parents
    and grandparents
  314. and generations before them built
    for us
  315. That's the tradition we must uphold
  316. That's the legacy we must leave for those
    who are yet to come
  317. Thank you, God bless you
  318. and God bless this country we love