People say, why not have amnesty? Well, the reason why is because 10 years from now you don't want to have a President having to address the next 11 million people who might be here illegally. That's why you don't want amnesty. And, secondly, we're a nation of law, and we expect people to uphold the law.
So we're working closely with Republicans and Democrats to find a practical answer that lies between granting automatic citizenship to every illegal immigrant and deporting every illegal immigrant.
It is impractical to take the position that, oh, we'll just find the 11 million or 12 million people and send them home. It's just an impractical position; it's not going to work. It may sound good. It may make nice sound bite news. It won't happen.
And, therefore, we need to work together to come up with a practical solution to this problem, and I know people in Congress are working hard on this issue. Illegal immigrants who have roots in our country and want to stay should have to pay a meaningful penalty for breaking the law, and pay their taxes, and learn the English language, and show work -- show that they've worked in a job for a number of years.
People who meet a reasonable number of conditions and pay a penalty of time and money should be able to apply for citizenship. But approval would not be automatic, and they would have to wait in line behind those who played by the rules and followed the law.
What I've described is a way for those who've broken the law to pay their debt to society and demonstrate the character that makes a good citizen.