Thursday, July 1, 2010

Obama 'ready to move forward' with comprehensive immigration reform

Posted By on Thu, Jul 1, 2010 at 2:30 PM

The wheels have been put into motion; President Obama’s speech at American University in Washington, D.C this morning acknowledged the nation’s broken immigration system and the frustration that has come with it. As usual, the president presented the issue eloquently; for those who have forgotten, he urged us to be mindful of America’s long-standing tradition as being a “beacon of hope,” an alleged land of milk and honey that, as immigrants often found out the hard way, was not always as welcoming as expected. “The politics of who is and is not allowed to enter this country, and on what terms, has always been contentious, and that remains true today," said the president. "And it’s made worse by a failure of those of us in Washington to fix a broken immigration system.”

President Obama blamed the lack of action concerning immigration reform taken at the federal level on “the polarization and the frequent pettiness of our politics,” recognizing that immigration reform is an issue that “has been used to divide and inflame, and to demonize people,” making it a topic to either be avoided or sensationalized, particularly in election years such as this one. He demanded accountability, from the government that has failed to fix the system, from the businesses that have lured illegal immigrants for decades, and from the immigrants themselves.

Obama stated his belief that “a program of mass deportation would disrupt our economies and communities in ways that most Americans would find intolerable”; his tentative proposal asks that the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country admit to breaking the law, take steps to register for legal status, and put forth an effort in learning English if they have not already. He recognized that;

“The legal immigration system is as broken as the borders” and that “our task now…is to shape a system that reflects our values as a nation of laws and as a nation of immigrants. And that means being honest about the problem and getting past the false debates that divide the country rather than bringing it together…We can create a pathway for legal status that is fair, reflective of our values, and works…The question now is whether we will have the courage, and political will, to pass the bill through Congress, to finally get it done.”

The 34-minute speech was stirring, if somewhat vague. Regardless, President Obama has established a dialogue about immigration with the American people. Skeptics may say all he’s done is started to secure the vote for Democrats in November, but hopefully some changes will begin to be seen from now until then.

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