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Obama on Immigration Reform: "It's the right thing to do"

by Jane Susskind, published

Following a statement made today announcing a change in immigration policy, President Barack Obama gave a speech at the White House on the need for immigration reform. Unlike yesterday's speech on the economy, the president made it short and sweet, categorizing immigration reform as a top priority.

"These are young people who study in our schools, play in our neighborhoods, are friends of our kids, they pledge allegiance to our flag. They are Americans in their hearts, their minds, in every single way but one: on paper."

Obama asked Americans to "put yourself in their shoes," highlighting the hard work and patriotism of immigrants who were illegally brought into this country as children, sometimes even infants.

"I've said time and time again to Congress, send me the DREAM Act, put it on my desk, and I will sign it right away." 

Attacking Republicans, he notes the bill was blocked by the Senate GOP. Drawing attention to the partisan politics that has halted immigration reform, he continues:

"The need hasn't changed. It's still the right thing to do. The only thing that's changed is the politics." 

Citing enforcement as the focus of his immigration policy, he boasts that there are fewer illegal crossings now than in any time in the last 40 years, while deportation of criminals is up 80 percent.

Echoing the sentiment of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, he says:

"Effective immediate, the Department of Homeland Security is taking steps to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people." He clarifies, "This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenships. It's not a permanent fix." He concludes, "It is the right thing to do."

Calling on Congress to address the issue, he continues,

"Congress needs to act. There is still time for Congress to pass the DREAM Act this year because these students deserve to plan their lives in more than 2 year increments." He repeats, "There's no reasons why we can't come together and get this done. As president, I will not give up on this issue, not just because it's the right thing to do for our economy, not just because it's the right thing to do for immigrants, but because it's the right thing to do."

A seemingly frustrated Obama concluded his speech by addressing an unexpected question asked in the middle of his speech, explaining that this is the right thing to do because, "these young people are going to make extraordinary contributions and are already making extraordinary contributions to our society."

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