News / USA

Obama Calls For US Immigration Reform

Multimedia

President Barack Obama is calling for action to reform U.S. immigration policy.   

Mr. Obama says the U.S. immigration system is "broken and dangerous," and the country's borders are too vast for the problem to be solved only by building more fences.

"In sum, the system is broken, and everybody knows it," he said.  "Unfortunately, reform has been held hostage to political posturing and special-interest wrangling, and to the pervasive sentiment in Washington that tackling such a thorny and emotional issue is inherently bad politics," Mr. Obama added.

Speaking at American University's School of International Service, the president made his first major appeal for a comprehensive reform of the nation's immigration policies.

He did not announce any new initiatives on the issue, but called overhauling the U.S. immigration system "a moral imperative."

White House officials say the president's decision to speak about the issue was influenced by several factors, including the state of Arizona's recent passage of a tough law against illegal immigrants.

Mr. Obama said inaction at the federal level has led to what he considers a bad law.  

"Into this breach, states like Arizona have decided to take matters into their own hands.  Given the levels of frustration across the country, this is understandable.  But it is also ill-conceived," he said.

The new law has been met with protests around the country, although polls show that a majority of Americans questioned support it.

In his campaign for president, Mr. Obama promised to reform the U.S. immigration system, and some critics are demanding that he speed the process.

Shortly after the president spoke, religious leaders demonstrated outside the White House, calling for an overhaul to be passed this year.

Rabbi Michael Feingold, who works with immigrant and low-wage workers in New York, applauded Mr. Obama's speech, but said words are not enough. "The way the system is now works for no one.  It doesn't work for the immigrants themselves, it doesn't work for the government and it doesn't even work for some employers. So it's clear there's an absolute need to fix that," he said.

The president said a comprehensive solution is needed for America's immigration problem.  

He sought to reassure those who want to get tough on illegal migrants that he does not support giving amnesty to people who are in the United States against the law.

"Ultimately, our nation, like all nations, has the right and obligation to control its borders and set laws for residency and citizenship," he said.  "And no matter how decent they are, no matter their reasons, the 11 million who broke these laws should be held accountable."

Mr. Obama also reassured pro-immigrant groups he has no intention of trying to round up and deport those who are in the country illegally.

"They know it is not possible.  Such an effort would be logistically impossible and wildly expensive.  Moreover, it would tear at the very fabric of this nation," said the president.

Mr. Obama urged U.S. lawmakers to have the political courage to address an important issue.

Despite the president's appeal, members of Congress, many of whom are seeking re-election in November, are not likely to take up the controversial issue of immigration reform this year.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid