May 5th, 2010
06:49 PM ET
8 years ago

Obama calls for Congress to work now on immigration reform

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama said Wednesday he wants Congress to work on comprehensive immigration reform this year because that would be the best way to fix the nation's broken immigration system.

Speaking at a Cinco de Mayo celebration at the White House, Obama again criticized the recently enacted Arizona immigration law as the wrong approach.

"The answer isn't to undermine fundamental principles that define us as a nation," Obama said to applause. He called instead for "common-sense comprehensive immigration reform."

Obama said Congress should begin work now on the issue, in an apparent effort to clarify his comment last week that the political climate might be too difficult to take up immigration reform.

"I was pleased to see a strong proposal for comprehensive reform presented in the Senate last week, and I was pleased it was based on a bipiartsan framework," Obama said. "I want to begin work this year. And I want Democrats and Republicans to work with me."

Without a comprehensive federal approach, the president said, state and local authorities would continue to take "misconceived" steps at addressing the illegal immigration problem such as the recently enacted Arizona law that allows police to ask anyone for proof of legal U.S. residency.

Critics say the law will lead to racial profiling, while supporters say it involves no racial profiling and is needed to crack down on increasing crime involving illegal immigrants.

In Arizona, the city councils of Tucson and Flagstaff have decided to file a lawsuit against the new immigration law. Members of the Phoenix Suns basketball team, meanwhile, planned to wear jerseys in Wednesday night's playoff game that say "Los Suns" as a tribute to the state's Latino community, Suns' managing partner Robert Sarver said in a statement.

Obama made a reference to the basketball team's gesture, saying that some attending the White House celebration probably wanted to watch the game between the San Antonio Spurs and "Los Suns."

"Make no mistake - our immigration system is broken" and people were right to be frustrated, including those in border states such as Arizona, Obama said.

However, "we can't start singling out people depending on who they look like or how they talk or how they dress," he said, adding he has asked for a review of the Arizona law.

Comprehensive immigration reform would include continuing government efforts to secure borders from illegal immigrants, as well as steps to crack down on businesses employing illegal immigrants, Obama said.

In addition, he said, those living illegally in the United States would have to pay a penalty and any taxes they owe, learn English, "make themselves right with the law" and then start the process of gaining legal citizenship.

He said getting congressional approval for a bill would "be tough," and added: "We need bipartisan support, but it can be done and it needs to be done."

Filed under: Immigration • President Obama
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. ib

    Yes; do it now get a tougher law than Az. has and get rid of these people who don't pay taxes. If they want to live here let them earn it the hard way like those before them have.

    May 5, 2010 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |

    Ok with the recent attempted bombing in NY, we now know that this guys just became a US citizen a year ago. He was here on a work visa. I ask how long would it take a Mexican to get a work visa and then how long would it take them to get their citizenship? Too long unless you are middle-eastern and can blow up buildings. When was the last time a person from Mexico comitted a terrorist act? Never that I know of. Agreed come here legally but the sheriff with his statement on a CNN interview makes a statement that the people of Arizona are tired of the crimes created by the mexicans, ok drunk in public, driving without a license, driving without insurance, public intoxication, maybe burglary, wow these crimes are so extreme that only Mexicans comitt these crimes, so the White man doesn't comitt any, yeah right.

    May 5, 2010 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  3. capt snarky

    Why do we need immigration reform?

    What is wrong with the laws that are currently on the books, and why doesn't the Government enforce them?

    Why are we not policing our borders?

    Why do the Progressives want amnesty for all the illegal aliens?

    Why is E-verify not the law of the land?

    Why is the hiring of illegals not punished?

    Why are we spending BILLIONS of dollars each year providing care and services for people who aren't even residents of our nation?


    May 5, 2010 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  4. Pam, Eugene, OR

    Listen up all you:
    And I would not want to forget the TeaBAGGERS
    Immediatly remove your fingers from the key board
    Step away from the computer
    Remain silent until you can contribute something to the converstion that shows anything beyond a 3rd grade mentality. Come on, both side GROW UP or SHUT UP.

    May 5, 2010 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  5. Gerry NH

    The only reason for Obama wanting immigration reform now is so he can give amnisty and get reelected in 2012.

    May 5, 2010 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  6. Four and The Door

    "The answer isn't to undermine fundamental principles that define us as a nation," Obama said to applause.
    ______________________________________________________ supporting our law enforcement personnel by giving them the authority to enforce the law? I don't think Arizona came up with the idea that it is illegal to enter the United States by sneaking across the border. What am I missing here?

    May 5, 2010 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  7. George of the jungle

    The president is right. No one want's a bunch of people here illegally. But these people that are gung ho for this law are the same people that are hollering about the president tearing apart the constitution. When in fact that is what this dumb law does. It is not constitutional and these people don't care only if effects there right to bare arms or some such thing. We need reform but this law is not it.

    May 5, 2010 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  8. Cynthia

    I am saddened that this country has gotten so mean spirited. There are better ways to deal with immigration problems. I live in one the most Mexican populated towns in Arkansas. I don't like the way the town is going, but now this town would go bust without them. It's a two edged sword. It will take people working together to figure a fair solution to this problem. The Republicans don't even know what that word means. If it won't make them money, or get them votes. COUNT THEM OUT!

    May 5, 2010 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  9. Maria H-Miami

    Oh, glad President Obama finally saw the light, now that the State of Arizona had to take matters into their own hands to protect their citizens from illegal aliens.

    I thought he said he had worked Congress to hard this year and immigration reform was just going to have to wait until maybe the end of the year or next year?

    Granted, the law originally was incorrectly written and now they changed it somewhat to only when a traffic violation is committed can a Police Officer ask a person about the legal status.

    But, they are still targeting BROWN SKIN and Mexican people.

    Arizona Law makers forgot to target WHITE SKIN people as they also live in our country illegally.

    Haven't they ever heard of White skin Tourists staying in our country illegally???

    I still say Americans should have their Birth Certificates done into ID Cards with their picture on it and show it along with their Driver's License, since White skin illegals can look like Americans. ( put it in a National Database) for Police to access.

    And those of us U.S. Citizens have our Citizenship Certificate made into ID Cards with our picture on it and show it along with our Driver's License ( put it in a National Database) for Police to access.

    Sounds simple enough to me and it adds to protecting our country.

    May 5, 2010 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  10. IVOTE

    For any immigration reform to work the Federal Government and State Government should put in place "penalties" for anyone who hires any one in this country who is here illegally for cheap labor. This would include people of all races. Many are here as nannies/housekeepers, etc.

    May 5, 2010 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  11. RYN

    ARIZONA has shown us all the immigration reform we need – there's no need for any more.

    May 5, 2010 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  12. JP

    The immigration system isn't broken, the laws we have are not enforced. Fine employers who hire illegals. We don't need any more citizens who are poor and under educated. If Obama gets his way the illegals will join the 47% of working Americans who work but pay no income tax. Mr. President how much will it cost to insure 11 million or more illegals under your new health care entitlement.

    May 5, 2010 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  13. ryan

    Im sure he did. Enforce the current immigration laws we currently have and states would not try to pass laws like Az did. With the borders wide open like they are who knows how many terrorists are in our country ready to set plans in action like they did in New York. We love illegals in our country and basically inviting them in. We spend all of our money on illegal mexicans we dont have any money left to fight terrorism. Go AZ

    May 5, 2010 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  14. me me me

    It's about time! I, as an US born citizen am scared to death that reform doesn't go through this year. The unity of my family depends on it!!! To those that oppose a Reform: Please, for the love of God, let's keep a BALANCED mentallity on this issue. We all agree that our immigration system is broken -- SO LETS FIX IT!

    May 5, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  15. ac

    Ohh....Mr. President.....
    When are you going to start talking about Jobs, Sir?
    Jobs was your top priority many months ago, wasn't it?
    Please, Mr. President stop pushing thrugh our throats things that are so difficult to get down-Pleaseeee.....can you do that?

    May 5, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  16. darko

    Don't need to reform the laws...just those restricting the enforcement of them.

    May 5, 2010 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  17. Robert Graziani

    The United States does not need immigration reform. The United States needs to enforce the LAWS that we now have on the books. No more free rides for illegal immigrants . I applaud the state of Arizona, and hope that all states follow there direction. The United States should have an old fasioned round-up.

    May 5, 2010 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  18. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    It's greedy employers who hire illegals for profit while paying them what they want or under the table. We need to start fining those who employ illegals or put them out of business because when the U.S. economy was failing many illegals went back to there homeland.

    May 5, 2010 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  19. Fed Up!

    What an idiot. Methinks Obama is pandering to a certain group of voters.

    The environment desperately needs more urgent attention than immigration.

    Let the Arizona law stand and see what happens, then we can see what works and what doesn't.

    May 5, 2010 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  20. Mike in NYC

    The fact that a Mexican holiday is being celebrated at the White House speaks volumes.

    And last time I checked, B-ball wasn't too popular among Hispanics. The Suns organization apparently decided that scoring multicult brownie points is worth spitting in the faces of the large majority of Suns fans who support the AZ law.

    May 5, 2010 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  21. Martin Oklahoma

    We have great laws on our books now for illegal immigration. What we need is for the Feds to enforce those laws. We do not want Comprehensive Immigration Reform which is another term for amnesty. 87% of these illegals are criminals in addition to sneaking across our borders. There are approximately 22 million illegals in our country now. Send them back home.

    May 5, 2010 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  22. joe m

    if reform is nothing more than a pathway to citizenship for those who are already here illegally, and for those who may come in the future, then it is no reform at all. reform should begin with securing the border, enforcing the laws, and discouraging illegals from continuing to cross the borders. a country that is already having problems managing its financial systems cannot withstand the additional stress of those who come here illegally. this remains a country that welcomes others, buy it should also be a country that is governed by laws.

    May 5, 2010 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  23. cmb

    I agree with the president, but this time lets add a little action to the talking.

    May 5, 2010 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  24. Paramvir

    This is long overdue and there should be no excuses. Republicans should understand they are working for the country not for themselves. They should stop acting stupid and immature.

    We need immigration reform now. I am legal non immigrant who has contributed a lot to this country's economy and because of broken immigration system I am prone to employer abuse and dont see my green cards for atleast 10 years, which is impractical.

    May 5, 2010 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  25. Fitz in Texas

    "Obama again criticized the recently enacted Arizona immigration law as the wrong approach."

    Well, of course it's the "wrong approach" according to Obama. After all, he knows he needs these votes. All about votes for Obama and not what is best for this country. Perhaps what Obama needs to do is sit down and talk with the victims of these illegal aliens. Bet our HPD officers that have been wounded by illegal aliens might have a bit of advice for Obama and the family of these fine officers that were killed by illegal aliens might have a thing or two to say regarding illegal aliens.

    May 5, 2010 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
1 2