WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Barack Obama is attempting to set the record straight over health care reform and illegal immigrants.
"As you know, there's been a little controversy about who exactly will be covered under reform. I want to be clear: If someone is here illegally, they won't be covered under this plan. That's a commitment I've made," the president said Wednesday night as he addressed the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's 32nd annual award gala.
Last week, as he told a joint-session of Congress in prime-time that "the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally," Obama was interrupted by Rep. Joe Wilson. The South Carolina Republican yelled out "you lie," to which the president replied "it's not true."
The president Wednesday night continued his push for health care form, saying "Even though I do not believe we can extend coverage to those who are here illegally, I also don't simply believe we can simply ignore the fact that our immigration system is broken. That's why I strongly support making sure folks who are here legally have access to affordable, quality health insurance under this plan, just like everybody else. "And we certainly should not let this debate on health care - one so essential to Hispanic Americans and all Americans - get sidetracked by those looking to exploit divisions and kill reform at any cost."
Obama also made a pitch for immigration reform, one if his goals for next year.
"If anything, this debate underscores the necessity of passing comprehensive immigration reform and resolving the issue of 12 million undocumented people living and working in this country once and for all. That's what I've said from the start. That's what I say tonight," he said.