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Obama to Republicans: "We Have To Show Realism, Practicality" When It Comes To Immigration

STEVE INSKEEP, NPR: In an interview in August, you described the Republican Party as being "captive to nativist elements of the party."

OBAMA: Yeah.

INSKEEP: What did you mean by that and can you work with people who you think of in that way?

OBAMA: Well, on immigration, I probably can't; I'm — Steve King and I fundamentally disagree on immigration.

INSKEEP: The Iowa congressman.

OBAMA: If — if — if your view is that immigrants are either fundamentally bad to the country or that we actually have the option of deporting 11 million immigrants, regardless of the disruptions, regardless of the cost and that that is who we are as Americans, I reject that.

On the other hand, I think that there are a lot of Republicans who recognize that not only do we need to fix a broken immigration system, strengthen our borders and streamline the legal immigration system, but that we have to show realism, practicality and insist on accountability from those who are here illegally and that the best way to do that is to provide them a path to get legal — paying a fine, submitting to background checks and so forth...

INSKEEP: I think that if a Republican lawmaker was sitting here, he might say, "Wait a minute. I'm not captive to nativist elements. I have actual concerns and you're not addressing them."

OBAMA: Well, the problem is what are those concerns and — and how is it that I'm not addressing them? If — if the concern is border security, we've got more resources, more border police, more money being spent at our borders than any time in the last 30, 40 years. If the concern is the flow of illegal workers into the country, that flow is about half of what it was and is lower than any time since the 1970s.

So, you know, you have to describe specifically what are the concerns that you've got. (NPR Interview with Steve Inskeep, aired December 29, 2014)

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