President Obama Calls For Bipartisan Immigration Reform

July 01, 2010 2:30 pm ET — Melinda Warner

President Obama was perfectly clear in his speech today at American University.  The United States immigration system is in desperate need of repair.  Congress has tried to pass comprehensive, bipartisan reform several times in the past few years, only to see their efforts fail.  We have to secure the border, prevent American businesses from hiring illegal workers, and hold those here illegally responsible for their actions.

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But even Republicans who have been champions of reform in the past
(ahem, Sen. McCain) are now fighting reform.  No matter how popular comprehensive immigration reform is with the American public (more Americans want comprehensive reform than want an Arizona-type law in their own state), or how many times they've said or done the exact opposite in the past, Republicans will blame the federal government for not taking action all the while refusing to cooperate on a solution.   

After firmly stating the need to secure the border and to punish businesses who exploit the system and hire illegal workers (policies Republicans support), the president said:

... we have to demand responsibility from people living here illegally.  They must be required to admit that they broke the law.  They should be required to register, pay their taxes, pay a fine, and learn English.  They must get right with the law before they can get in line and earn their citizenship -- not just because it is fair, not just because it will make clear to those who might wish to come to America they must do so inside the bounds of the law, but because this is how we demonstrate that being -- what being an American means.  Being a citizen of this country comes not only with rights but also with certain fundamental responsibilities.  We can create a pathway for legal status that is fair, reflective of our values, and works.

By resisting efforts to pass reform, Republicans are clearly telling the American people that they are more willing to put partisan politics above the needs of our country.  Not only that, but Republican officials and candidates alike are offering frankly ridiculous ideas about the state of immigration and what steps can be taken to address the problem. Here are some recent gems:

Pat Bertroche, candidate (R-IA):

"I think we should catch 'em, we should document 'em, make sure we know where they are and where they are going...I actually support microchipping them. I can micro-chip my dog so I can find it. Why can't I microchip an illegal? That's not a popular thing to say, but it's a lot cheaper than building a fence they can tunnel under."

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX):

Terrorists "would have young women, who became pregnant, would get them into the United States to have a baby.  They wouldn't even have to pay anything for the baby.  And then they would turn back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists.  And then one day, twenty...thirty years down the road, they can be sent in to help destroy our way of life.  'Cause they figured out how stupid we are being in this country to allow our enemies to game our system."

Rep. Steve King (R-IA):

"Some claim that the Arizona law will bring about racial discrimination profiling... It's just a common sense thing. Law enforcement needs to use common sense indicators. Those common sense indicators are all kinds of things, from what kind of clothes people wear - my suit in my case - what kind of shoes people wear, what kind of accident [sic] they have, um, the, the type of grooming they might have, there're, there're all kinds of indicators there and sometimes it's just a sixth sense and they can't put their finger on it."

Tom Mullins, candidate (R-NM):

"We could put land mines along the border.  I know it sounds crazy.  We could put up signs in 23 different languages if necessary."

Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX):

"Now it seems to me that if we are so advanced with technology and manpower and competence that we can capture illegal grasshoppers from Brazil, in the holds of ships that are in a little small place in Port Arthur, Texas on the Sabine River.  Sabin River, Madam Speaker, is the river that separates Texas from Louisiana.  If we're able to do that as a country, how come we can't capture the thousands of people that cross the border everyday on the southern border of the United States?  You know they're a little bigger than grasshoppers and they should be able to be captured easier."

And all this on top of the fact that many Republicans have cast votes to prevent funding for border security from ever passing through Congress

The American people are tired of this endless debate.  They want their representatives in Congress to stop posturing and start legislating.  They know that problems can't be solved without a set of comprehensive reforms.  The time for reform is now.

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