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President Obama Speaks On Immigration Reform

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Now, obviously, just because something is smart and fair, and good for the economy and fiscally responsible and supported by business and labor -- (laughter) -- and the evangelical community and many Democrats and many Republicans, that does not mean that it will actually get done. (Laughter.) This is Washington, after all.

So everything tends to be viewed through a political prism and everybody has been looking at the politics of this. And I know that there are some folks in this town who are primed to think, “Well, if Obama is for it, then I’m against it.” But I’d remind everybody that my Republican predecessor was also for it when he proposed reforms like this almost a decade ago, and I joined with 23 Senate Republicans back then to support that reform. I’d remind you that this reform won more than a dozen Republican votes in the Senate in June.

I’m not running for office again. I just believe this is the right thing to do. (Applause.) I just believe this is the right thing to do. And I also believe that good policy is good politics in this instance. And if folks are really that consumed with the politics of fixing our broken immigration system, they should take a closer look at the polls because the American people support this. It’s not something they reject -- they support it. Everybody wins here if we work together to get this done. In fact, if there’s a good reason not to pass this common-sense reform, I haven’t heard it.

So anyone still standing in the way of this bipartisan reform should at least have to explain why. A clear majority of the American people think it’s the right thing to do.

Now, how do we move forward? Democratic leaders have introduced a bill in the House that is similar to the bipartisan Senate bill. So now it’s up to Republicans in the House to decide whether reform becomes a reality or not.

I do know -- and this is good news -- that many of them agree that we need to fix our broken immigration system across these areas that we’ve just discussed. And what I’ve said to them, and I’ll repeat today, is if House Republicans have new and different, additional ideas for how we should move forward, then we want to hear them. I’ll be listening. I know that Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, those who voted for immigration reform already, are eager to hear those additional ideas. But what we can’t do is just sweep the problem under the rug one more time, leave it for somebody else to solve sometime in the future.

Rather than create problems, let’s prove to the American people that Washington can actually solve some problems. This reform comes as close to anything we’ve got to a law that will benefit everybody now and far into the future. So let’s see if we can get this done. And let’s see if we can get it done this year. (Applause.)

We’ve got the time to do it. Republicans in the House, including the Speaker, have said we should act. So let’s not wait. It doesn’t get easier to just put it off. Let’s do it now. Let’s not delay. Let’s get this done, and let’s do it in a bipartisan fashion.

To those of you who are here today, I want to just say one last thing and that is -- thank you. I want to thank you for your persistence. I want to thank you for your activism. I want to thank you for your passion and your heart when it comes to this issue. And I want to tell you, you’ve got to keep it up. Keep putting the pressure on all of us to get this done. There are going to be moments -- and there are always moments like this in big efforts at reform -- where you meet resistance, and the press will declare something dead, it’s not going to happen, but that can be overcome.

And I have to say, Joe, as I look out at this room, these don’t look like people who are easily deterred. (Laughter.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don’t think so.

THE PRESIDENT: They don’t look like folks who are going to give up. (Applause.) You look fired up to make the next push. And whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or an independent, I want you to keep working, and I’m going to be right next to you, to make sure we get immigration reform done. It is time. Let’s go get it done.

Thank you very much, everybody.

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