Ottumwa, Iowa (CNN) – President Obama spoke more extensively on the Arizona immigration bill on Tuesday, taking a question during a rally at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa Iowa.
"I have a lot of undocumented friends," said Julie Morales, a student at the community college. "Immigration has been in the news for many, many years, and nothing has been done about it, and I was just wondering what your plan was for our undocumented workers who have established our country?"
Obama criticized the recently passed Arizona immigration bill, calling it "poorly conceived."
"You can imagine if you are an Hispanic American in Arizona, your great grandparents may have been there before Arizona was even a state, but now suddenly if you don't have your papers, and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you're gonna be harassed," Obama said. "That's something that could potentially happen. That's not the right way to go."
Obama made clear that illegal immigrants bear responsibility too. "We area nation of immigrants," he said, "but we are also a nation of laws."
"The truth is that 11 or 12 million folks, we're gonna have to make them take responsibility for what they did," Obama said. "And the way to do that is to make them register, make them pay a fine, make them learn English, make them take responsibility for the fact that they broke the law."
Despite not being a border state, Iowa has an issue with illegal immigrants, many of whom work in the state's farm and meat packing industries. A 2008 raid of a meat packing plant in Postville, Iowa, resulted in the arrests by immigration officials of several hundred undocumented workers.