Washington D.C. – Today, President Obama delivered a televised speech to the American public on the importance of fixing our broken immigration system through comprehensive immigration reform. Hemi Kim, DC Director was among the 250 people present at American University this morning. NAKASEC shares these thoughts in response:
NAKASEC welcomes President Obama’s public remarks on immigration and immigrants and hopes it will kindle a more thoughtful and pragmatic dialogue on the urgent need for immigration reform. President Obama began by recognizing the contributions of immigrants – including the most renowned and the countless millions of hardworking, intelligent people who enrich this country. He added that the current system designed to enable people to come to this country – whether to study, to work, or to be with family – is “fundamentally broken.”
President Obama outlined the common elements of comprehensive immigration reform to include a pathway to citizenship for individuals, migrant workers and AgJobs, students and the DREAM Act, border security, and punishing unscrupulous employers while holding businesses accountable. On the presence of 11 million undocumented immigrants who are “intricately woven” into the fabric of the United States, he called for reasonable solutions that were neither blanket amnesty nor deportation. Further, while he recognized that we are a nation of laws that have to be enforced, he reminded us that it cannot be at the cost of violating the rights of innocent people.
With regard to timing, he said he is ready to work on enacting immigration reform:
So we’ve made progress. I’m ready to move forward; the majority of Democrats are ready to move forward; and I believe the majority of Americans are ready to move forward. But the fact is, without bipartisan support, as we had just a few years ago, we cannot solve this problem. Reform that brings accountability to our immigration system cannot pass without Republican votes. That is the political and mathematical reality. The only way to reduce the risk that this effort will again falter because of politics is if members of both parties are willing to take responsibility for solving this problem once and for all.
In sum, President Obama’s speech was necessary for the administration to outline their policy position and readiness to enact changes to our immigration laws. But actions speak louder than words. Each day, we continue to see communities devastated by family separations and workplace raids, students graduate uncertain of their future and workers exploited in the underground economy. We urge President Obama and Congress, Republican and Democrats to find the political courage and exercise the forceful leadership absent today to fix our nation’s “fundamentally broken” immigration system.
Our communities have been ready for too long and we will continue to participate, from dialogues to action, to realize immigration reform.