Obama says no to immigration without citizenship path
July 16th, 2013
07:51 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama says no to immigration without citizenship path

Updated at 9:52 a.m. ET on 7/17

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama said Tuesday an immigration reform bill without a path to citizenship for those in the United States illegally "does not make sense."

"It does not make sense to me, if we're gonna make this once-in-a-generation effort to finally fix the system, to leave the status of 11 million people or so unresolved," Obama said in an interview with a Telemundo-owned TV station in Denver.

Such a plan, he said, would run counter to American values.

"It's not who we are as Americans," Obama said, according to a transcript of the interview. "That's never been our tradition."

The president conducted interviews with four Spanish-language television stations Tuesday as part of the White House's push for immigration. While a comprehensive plan passed in the Senate in June, it has yet to be considered in the House, where leaders have advocated a piecemeal approach to reform of late. But the president warned against tackling the effort in stages, where there could be a "tendency I think to put off the hard stuff until the end."

"If you've eaten your dessert before you've eaten your meal, at least with my children, sometimes they don't end up eating their vegetables," Obama told a Telemundo-owned station in Dallas, according to the transcript. "We need to, I think, do this as a complete package."

Although the president acknowledged a bill is unlikely to pass before the August Congressional recess, he said he's hopeful a bill will pass by the fall.

But the politics of that, he said, are difficult, especially for Republican House members, many of whom are facing a difficult reality in their home districts.

"I know it's tough, I know the Republican House members are wrestling with it," Obama said. "Many of their constituents are suspicious of this, suspicious of what immigration might mean for their political future in some cases."

Obama said he believes the Senate-passed bill would clear the House if brought to the floor now, but put the onus on House Republicans who he said "still have to process this issue and discuss it further."

House Speaker John Boehner has said he will not allow a vote on the bill unless it is backed by the majority of the Republican conference. The president asked Republicans to show "leadership."

"If we can see some leadership from members of the Republican Party, some of whom I disagree with on a lot of issues, but you know who do seem to recognize this is the right thing to do for the country … eventually we'll get something passed out of the House," Obama said.

Filed under: Immigration • Latinos • President Obama • White House
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Neutral Observer

    What does he mean that there is no path to citizenship? Legal immigration is still open, why can't they start over doing it the way the law intended? That way are laws and customs remain respected and the intended path is followed. I think it sends a really bad message to reward people who broke the law and giving them a leg up on those who followed it

    July 17, 2013 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  2. ghost

    2014 is time for change.

    July 17, 2013 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  3. native-born

    "Unresolved"? They're here illegally. Kick 'em the he)) out. Resolved! Stupid, stupid politician thing! Oh, h – then we're down 11mil grateful voters – silly me.

    July 17, 2013 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  4. Juanita Carter

    No problem with the law, just the border needs to be sealed first and I know that it is not.

    July 17, 2013 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  5. NameDixie

    Good grief I. agree with Obama. Never thought that would happen in a million years. Just proves we can agree on an issue once in awhile. I do think he will have to compromise. on some of the parts he wants like a comprehensive bill. Who cares if you get what you want. Work together people and get it done.

    July 17, 2013 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  6. Anonymous

    I am a life long Republican and don't care for Obama but not solving the problem for those here is wrong and gutless. We already granted them amnesty. They live and work for us and with us in amnesty today.

    July 17, 2013 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  7. jimmyjo

    Why is this such a hard issue to resolve? Who we are as a country is a country of laws. FOLLOW THEM!

    July 17, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  8. maximusvad

    Republicans are a mess...they want the votes but they want to keep their racist base as well.

    July 17, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  9. Barasheit

    American value are to give free healthcare, food and education to illegal thugs who end up killing real citizen?

    Obama that is your values. You are so out of touch that you might as well be snorting coke and doing meth all at once! What a shameful rotten waste of American resources, you are!

    July 17, 2013 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  10. Dixie

    I do agree that we need to provide citizenship in some way. These people are here most are hard working and contributing to our work force. It would cost more to send them back so stop the entry of more people and deal with this. Once and for all. I would bet that we all know someone who is illegal and just never thought to ask about their status. It would probly suprize us all.

    July 17, 2013 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  11. Tigas

    "Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this Presidency" – Obama

    So, we are going to reward criminal immigrants that blatantly violate the current immigration laws?

    July 17, 2013 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  12. k

    Cool. We didn't want an amnesty bill anyway. Thanks 0.

    July 17, 2013 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  13. Mike

    I would rather have the 11 or so million on the books than continue to be a second tier class of people. Whoever doesn't see this is just scared of change. The Bill makes them also pay fines for their crime instead of separating families and costing the country BILLIONS in law enforcement and sending them back (If they find them). Just let go of your prejudices and pass a Bill with comprehensive Immigration reform so we could get a boost in the economy already. This tit for tat gets tiring

    July 17, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  14. Russ in OR

    I keep reading about the Republicans refusing to compromise. They seem to be the only ones willing to at this point. All of their amendments to the Senate bill were shot down as 'deal killers' by Schumer or the Gang of Ocho. I have yet to see the supporters of this compromise on anything of substance. Oh well, everyone stick to your guns and this thing will die as it should.

    July 17, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  15. art

    I I would believe the President was sincere, if he did not have relatives that were in this country illegal himself.
    This is no way for the leader of our country to act. He should be concerned about the real citizens of the United States before he tries to help anyone who enters or stays in the country illegally

    July 17, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  16. Tortuga

    "if we're gonna make this once-in-a-generation effort to finally fix the system,". Wrong. The last "once in a generation" fix, was a pack of lies, is still the law, so it is still a pack of lies. I'll fix. No citizenship for any illegal, no govt benefits for any illegal, no voting for any illegal, e-verify all job applicants by putting the 16,000 IRS agents on this, after Obummer care is defunded, present a bill to the mexican government for the costs of all illegals at hospitals and jails. The mexican president can pay this back from the $6 billion he has stolen and confiscate the rest from the past Mexican presidents stolen peso funded bank accounts in Houston and New York. The NSA knows where the money stolen from the Mexican people is. Oh, deport all illegals, meet them at the border and give each a Fast and Furious weapon so they can save their resource rich country from the 400 families that own everything that they are not stealing.

    July 17, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  17. Gunderson

    No Citizenship by back door. Come thru frong door. No apply for citizenship in U.S. Only from home country.

    July 17, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  18. suzy000

    Read between the lines...."it has never been our tradition not to recruit illegals for liberal votes". The Democrats are not going to spread the wealth unless there are votes in there for them. Take it to the bank!

    July 17, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  19. Viks

    To everyone here who says "follow the law", have you ever tried dealing with immigration for you or for your loved ones? Forget illegal immigration, let's focus on legal immigration. The system is so messed up some people can actually die trying to get in here by the books. The system was put in place before internet was commercially viable and Windows Operating system was a huge phenomena. The founders of google were in their high school. You get the perspective. The system is antiquated and obsolete. It needs fixing and comprehensive immigration is the right way to do it. But do it right this time, no more illegals here. Have stiff penalty for employers who hire illegals and all the problems go away.

    July 17, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  20. JoyO

    Border security first; then, give these people permanent visas and let them get in line to become law-abiding American citizens. And, the next immigration law needs to prohibit any more amnesty or permanent visa in the future. Our politicians are passing laws that actually encourages and rewards people to come here illegally. I fear they will pass another law like the 1986 immigration law and have another 10-20 million people enter illegally. That just kicks the can down the road and creates a problem for our children and their politicians.

    July 17, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  21. james

    who the hell is Obama to say enforce the laws , Our system works except for enforcement Whos job is this anyways I can tell you Its his job and his administrations job

    July 17, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  22. Stella

    Somebody needs to explain to Obama that we did Immigration Reform as a "complete package" back in 1986. We still have yet to "eat our vegetables (i.e. border security)." I am convinced he is totally dependent on low-information voters when he says these idiotic, dishonest things.

    July 17, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  23. Data Driven

    LOL, do what the President says, Republicans: eat your vegetables!

    July 17, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  24. The REAL Truth...

    @jimmyjo – Why is this such a hard issue to resolve? Who we are as a country is a country of laws. FOLLOW THEM!
    When have we ever followed laws when it suited one political faction or other not to????
    We have folks like Rubio and Ted Cruz railing on about the preventing the laws that allowed then to be whom they are. It's very simple... Amurikans simply won't do the jobs these illegals (and yes, some are criminals) are doing for the money they are being paid. Farm labor, construction, etc. They take jobs that need doing that we don't want. That's the truth. They came here for a better way of life, and are being exploited by business need for cheap labor, get none of the benefits we do, and the laws are not enforced against these businesses that hire them. Look at CA, AZ and TX as examples.
    To be sure, deport the criminals.. but this country was founded on immigrants. We're all immigrants in one form or another... the self-righteous right wing approach is not going to win them any friends. FWIW- the Obama administration deported MORE illegals in its first THREE yrs than Dubya did in EIGHT! Try to put that into perspective.

    July 17, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  25. thebaldchick

    For anyone with a sense of history, there is no doubt that the "uneaten vegetables" in the comprehensive bill Obama is insisting upon would be the border enforcement, not the amnesty.

    July 17, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
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