President Barack Obama gave a speech in Las Vegas on Tuesday, 29th January 2013, in which he told Americans that the time has come for the US to reform its immigration system.
The President’s speech was light on detail but he laid out the principles that will underlie his immigration reform proposals while speaking at Del Sol High School. In the hall were a collection of national and local politicians, many of them of Hispanic descent.
The President said that there was now an opportunity for reform. He said ‘For the first time in many years, Republicans and Democrats seem ready to tackle this problem together’. He said that he was laying out his ideas on immigration reform to help Congressmen and women to ‘craft a bill’.
The President said that there were three basic areas where reform was necessary. Firstly, he said, the US must ‘stay focussed on enforcement’. This will probably mean, in practice, yet more border patrols along the Mexican border and an expansion of the e-Verify system which makes it harder for illegal workers to find work. Before an employer employs a worker, it will be necessary to check them against a database of legal workers. If they do not appear, it will be illegal to employ them.
Secondly, the President said, the US must ‘deal with the 11 million individuals who are here illegally.’ Mr Obama said that the US must ‘lay out a path [to citizenship], a process, that includes passing a background check, paying taxes, paying a penalty, learning English and then going to the back of the line behind all the folks who are trying to come here legally’.
Thirdly, the President said, that the US must ‘bring our legal immigration system into the 21st Century’. Expanding, the President said ‘you shouldn’t have to wait years, if you’re a foreign student who wants to pursue a career in science or technology, or a foreign entrepreneur who wants to start a business…we should help you do that here, because, if you succeed, you’ll create American businesses.’