Warm and enthusiastic applause met his statement that the Whitehouse wants to help achieve the common goal of comprehensive immigration reform. The President noted that comprehensive immigration reform would mean that law enforcement authorities could stop wasting their time chasing people who just came here to work and allow them to focus on the real threats like criminals and terrorists.
The President did not specifically address how to deal with the 12 million undocumented immigrants (50,000 undocumented Irish) already living and working in the United States. However, the immigration plan set forth on the Whitehouse website does address the need to provide a path to EARNED legal status for the undocumented immigrants already in America.
Here is an excerpt from that plan as provided on the Whitehouse website:
We Must Bring Undocumented Workers Already In The Country Out Of The Shadows
Comprehensive Immigration Reform Must Account For The Millions Of Immigrants Already In The Country Illegally. Illegal immigration causes serious problems, putting pressure on public schools and hospitals and straining State and local budgets. People who have worked hard, supported their families, avoided crime, led responsible lives, and become a part of American life should be called in out of the shadows and under the rule of American law.
The President Opposes An Automatic Path To Citizenship Or Any Other Form Of Amnesty. Amnesty, as a reward for lawbreaking, would only invite further lawbreaking. Amnesty would also be unfair to those lawful immigrants who have patiently waited their turn for citizenship and to those who are still waiting to enter the country legally.
The President Supports A Rational Middle Ground Between A Program Of Mass Deportation And A Program Of Automatic Amnesty. It is neither wise nor realistic to round up and deport millions of illegal immigrants in the United States. But there should be no automatic path to citizenship. The President supports a rational middle ground founded on the following basic tenets:
No Amnesty. Workers who have entered the country illegally and workers who have overstayed their visas must pay a substantial penalty for their illegal conduct.
In Addition To Paying A Meaningful Penalty, Undocumented Workers Must Learn English, Pay Their Taxes, Pass A Background Check, And Hold A Job For A Number Of Years Before They Will Be Eligible To Be Considered For Legalized Status.
Any Undocumented Worker Seeking Citizenship Must Go To The "Back Of The Line." The program should not reward illegal conduct by making participants eligible for citizenship ahead of those who have played by the rules and followed the law. Instead, program participants must wait their turn at the back of the line.
For the full Whitehouse plan on immigration, click HERE.