While I understand many in the ANTI community will accept nothing but Mass Deportation and therefore dismissed the President's words, some folks in the PRO community have two issues with what he said:
1. No commitment to when a CIR bill will be passed: Will it be 2010? 2011? 2012? Or is this political pandering to obtain Latino votes in November.
2. Too many military on the border even though crime is actually down: The good news was he exposed the "crime is up on the border" rhetoric (lies). However is he pandering to the extremists by putting so many military on the border.
I'm still thinking about these two issues. I don't know if I agree or disagree. This is why I've taken so long in writing about his speech. I am mostly grateful that he has spoken out about the issue in such a caring and compassionate way. I believe his heart is in the right place. He clearly believes in a secure, prosperous and united America, a Land of Immigrants, a multi-cultural society with hope and dreams for all of our futures.
Happy July 4th!
Here is my Summary:
The President acknowledged we are a country of immigrants and our country was founded on Freedom, Equality and place where anyone can realize their dreams. We can't forget the resentment and xenophobia we have experienced in our past when many new groups took years/generations to assimilate.
Our borders have been porous for decades due to those seeking the American Dream and those seeking to hire and exploit cheap labor. He admitted our current Immigration processes are broken and our country is in dire need of Immigration reform at the National level. We need to secure our borders, hold employers accountable and do something about the 11M (yes he said 11M vs 12M since the numbers have gone down) here. He admitted there is a severe backlog in processing new admissions making it difficult for those escaping from dire circumstances to wait the required years. The system is not well automated and needs correction. He admitted there are severe backlogs in Immigration Courts so it is extremely difficult to resolve Immigration issues.
With our policies so broken and with our inability to pass Immigration reform in the past, states like Arizona decided to take matters into their own hands with an ill-conceived bill. They have fanned the flames in an already contentious debate. Laws like Arizona's put huge pressures on local law enforcement to enforce rules that are ultimately unenforceable. Many law enforcement in AZ and across the country have stepped forward and said so. He said these laws also have the potential of violating rights of innocent American citizens and legal residents. Additionally, if each state applies their own patchwork of immigration laws, we have the potential of different immigration rules applied differently for different parts of the country.
It is the Federal Government's responsibility to make our national laws actually work -- to shape our national immigration laws that actually work -- to shape a system that reflects our values as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. He said that doesn't mean the 11M here should be able to be immediately granted legal status. That would send the wrong message to those thinking about coming here in the future and to those already waiting in line. He said the majority of Americans are skeptical of a blanket amnesty. However he also said, the majority of Americans are also skeptical of rounding up and deporting 11M people. They know that's not possible. Such an effort would be logistically impossible and wildly expensive. Moreover it would tear at the very fabric of this nation -- because the 11M are intricately woven into our fabric. (eg: married to citizens; citizen children, some brought here as children; working AgJobs, etc.) Now, however, since we have the two poles of the debate, (e.g. No Amnesty vs No Mass Deportation) it becomes possible to form a solution that is practical and reflects our heritage and values; a solution we can all accept.
The President reiterated his support for secure borders and said "we have more boots on the ground along the border than any other time in American history." (and as I've long said) "Contrary to some of the reports (political rhetoric) that you see, crime along the border is down. And statistics collected by Customs and Border Protection reflect a significant reduction in the number of people trying to cross the border illegally." He reiterated we must hold Business accountable if they illegally hire. He is committed to giving employers a reliable system to verify legal status and punish those who bypass the system.
He will demand responsibility of those living here illegally. They will be required to admit they broke the law, required to register, pay their taxes, a fine and learn English. They must get right with the law before they get in line and apply for citizenship. He said they (Feds) are clearing the Immigration backlogs both in entry and in courts and automating the processes.
Our laws should respect families following the rules, not split them apart, provide farms a legal way to hire workers, a path for those to earn legal status, and stop punishing innocent young people for the actions of their parents by denying them the chance to earn an education and contribute to the country where they've grown up. (Dream Act)
This needs to be a bipartisan bill but with the volatility of the current debate, many Republicans have backed off their previous support. He asked that we put politics aside and pass CIR.
He closed with Emma Lazarus' poem:
“Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand,” she wrote,
A mighty woman with a torch…
From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome…
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!”…
“Give me your tired, and your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to be free…
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Let us remember these words. For it falls on each generation to ensure that that lamp -– that beacon -– continues to shine as a source of hope around the world, and a source of our prosperity here at home.
Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.