June 19th, 2009
10:39 AM ET
9 years ago

Obama reiterates commitment to immigration reform

(CNN) - President Obama on Friday reiterated his commitment to passing comprehensive immigration reform, telling a Hispanic audience that the country must be guided by the principle "love thy neighbor as thy self."

"The American people believe in immigration, but they also believe that we can't tolerate a situation where people come to the United States in violation of the law," Obama said before the eighth annual National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in Washington.

"Nor can we tolerate employers who exploit undocumented workers in order to bring down wages," he told the crowd at the breakfast, which was sponsored by Esperanza, the largest Hispanic faith-based evangelical network in the country.

Obama said the "fair, practical and promising way forward" is by strengthening border security, clarifying the status of those who are here illegally, and requiring illegal immigrants to pay a penalty and taxes, learn English and go to the back of the line for citizenship.

"Like some of you, I am the son of a parent who came to these shores in search of a better future," Obama said. "I could count on the basic promise, that no matter what you look like or where you come from, America will let you go as far as your dreams and your hard work will carry you. That promise is at the heart of the American story.

The president said that's the same story of every child who has the opportunity to go farther in life than their parents were able to go, and the "story of a young girl who could rise from a housing project, to be nominated for the highest court in land."

Obama last month nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. If confirmed, she would become the first Hispanic justice on the high court.

While the nomination was well-received in the Hispanic community, the president has yet to tackle immigration reform.

Before Obama took the stage, Rev. Jose Eugenio Hoyos delivered what was called a prayer for immigrant families. He asked for blessings for Obama and calls for immigration reform. Speaking to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and the president, Hoyos expressed his belief that deportation tears apart families. He told them the Hispanic community wants to see immigration addressed now.

While immigration reform is a top priority for the president's first term, the nation's economic woes top his list of domestic priorities. "The president has consistently said that he wants to start the discussion later this year because our immigration system is broken..." White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said earlier this year, "but the economy comes first."

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (89 Responses)
  1. Independent thinker

    All those northeast liberals who favor a policy that amounts to an open border really need to spend some time analyzing the social and economic cost of illegal immigration in the states closest to the border (Texas, Arizona, California). Beleive me, it would be eye-opening. But then maybe not. All those conservatives who bash illegals with one side of their mouth but then exploit them need to change their ways.

    We don't need immigration reform. We need to enforce the territorial integrity of the law and require everyone who wants to come here to go through the legally correct process.

    June 19, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  2. citizenjane

    @Cali J

    Great post – I am in 100% agreement with you on this issue.

    June 19, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  3. Proud DHS radical

    Here comes Obama granting Amnesty for the illegals follow by by his heath care program to provide them all the care they need at our expense. CHANGE is wonderful if you're a liberal.

    June 19, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  4. dominican mama 4 Obama

    To pavocavalry who wrote:

    "its a losing war that USA is fighting.By 2050 the latinos and blacks will be in majority .too difficulty to guard US frontiers."

    The topic is ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION not your hate and fear of blacks.

    June 19, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  5. me happy

    Hey CNN, just want to say that after my months long searching, I have finally found an alternative to your website, WSJ.com. I have no idea why i have never thought of checking their site before. But, am so glad that I did; your site has no journalistic integrity left, and you are no different than FOX NEWS. I have been so sick of your Obama love fest, and the lack of objective reporting (and I even like the dude)

    Anyway, enjoy your liberal and censored propaganda; I so will not miss you. (that is sad- I used to watch you all the time)

    P.S. To moderators, hey guys, may want to get in unemployment line, CNN is becoming more and more of a joke= more and more of your readers and viewers are moving on.

    Have a great day,

    June 19, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  6. You had your window Repubs, and you blew it!

    Hmmmm, that's interesting, Obama is talking about immigration in the United States and Republicans are completely focused on.......IRAN!?!?!?

    So I guess Republicans have accomplished all their missions here. Good job Repubs, you have come up with clear plans to immigration, healthcare, etc and now focusing on the only country in the entire world that is abusing human rights!

    You guys are so focused. You do too much! Really!

    June 19, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  7. Capt. SNarKy

    If you are here illegally, you have broken the law. You ARE a criminal. Thus you NEED to be documented, deported, and NOT allowed to re-enter our country.

    June 19, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  8. Millie2640

    To Southern Cousin...

    The SCHIP Program has been around for years! He only added funds to it you silly nutcase!

    June 19, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  9. dreamer

    I'm a native of california and had to move becouse there was no good paying jobs after Reagan granted amnisty last time and trashed the state and it has never really recoverd from that fact and If this president thinks they(law breaking allians) will turn in to good americans and live the american dream he only has to go to any hispanic or any other ethnically controled area in southern californa to see that is not the case.They ruin the places(look at TJ and other cities in mexico) the live and drive out bussness with gang activity.Still don't understand why we have mexican gangs with membership with over 100k in the US.and we sit on our hands and let it happen.amnisty in any for is a loser and we need to start breaking down thies drug running gangs badly if we want to even think about winning the war on drugs but that will never happen becouse there is no will for it to happen.

    June 19, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  10. Jeremiah

    Just let everyone in without any regulations. That's what you want. My parents came here from Europe, waited 4 YEARS to come here legally. Came here with nothing and forced themselves to learn the language within a year (because they didn't expect people to learn theirs). Yet, here we are, crying for the people that came here illegally. If it's illegal, why are they still here? I'm all for reform, but make people come and stay here legally, no free rides. And Obama, stop trying to change everything at once, you are juggling to much. We have a more pressing issue, the economy, and so far you and Bush have about the same level of competency in that department. All you have done is raise the deficit. Tell me, I'm in Ohio, if your stimulus is working so well, why is it that Michigan and Ohio ARE DYING?! You propose all this money for new construction. So basically you aren't creating permanent jobs, just a quick fix, a band aid if you will, that way you look good until those jobs are done. Great idea. So in essence, stop worrying about immigration, focus on the economy because that is what we care about right now.

    June 19, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  11. John Black Hills/SD

    We have to protect our boarders. When we protect our boarders we stop illegals from crossing into the U.S., but we also stop the cocaine/illegal drugs from flooding into our nation. Our savings would be immense since our prisons won't be over flowing with drug offenses, and the third of the prison population who are in the US illegally wouldn't exist. We save the billions of dollars by not giving the Colombians, the Bolivians...money that should be paying American boarder patrol agents who will need vehicles (American vehicles). Until we pull our heads out of our rear ends, we continue fighting the loosing battle that doesn't have to be.

    June 19, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  12. Deborah from KC/RN

    We need a national ID that can not be forged. Let the banks and credit card comanies show you how it is done. Then crack down on employers who hire illegal residents. Fences-we don't need no stinking fences! Follow the laws we already have, but make our Id's so that employers can not use the excuse that they didn't know.

    June 19, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  13. Jeremiah

    I say we deport Obama, Cheney, and Bush. That way they can work on destroying some other country.

    June 19, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  14. Michael

    Neither Obama or the Republicans will do anything meaningful to address illegal immigration. The reason is the political clout of the Hispanic vote. He who upsets the the hispanics risks voters and upcoming elections. Obama will promise and speak nice words but there will be no real change.

    We were once a melting pot of many cultural all striving to be one and United, now we are a country of special interests and separate culturals all wanting to be separate. "Divided we Fall"

    June 19, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
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