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Obama: Borders First, Legalization Second?

s-OBAMA-PRESSER-large President Barack Obama reaffirmed his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform at the press conference marking his first 100 days in office. He laid out the case for legalization in a forthright manner, stating that a broken immigration system is:

"not good for American workers. It’s dangerous for Mexican would-be workers who are trying to cross a dangerous border. It is putting a strain on border communities … And it keeps those undocumented workers in the shadows, which means they can be exploited at the same time as they’re depressing U.S. wages."

He warned however that:

"If the American people don’t feel like you can secure the borders, then it’s hard to strike a deal that would get people out of the shadows and on a pathway to citizenship who are already here, because the attitude of the average American is going to be, well, you’re just going to have hundreds of thousands of more coming in each year”

The President’s Immigration Agenda

Lifted verbatim from the White House’s website is the President’s Immigration agenda including what the Administration includes as achievements in the first 100 days. Judge for yourself.  The key question is: will immigration reform be enacted in 2009? There’s a good chance that the Administration will push for such an  outcome if it feels pressure from below to do so.

President Obama believes that our broken immigration system can only be fixed by putting politics aside and offering a complete solution that secures our border, enforces our laws, and reaffirms our heritage as a nation of immigrants. He believes our immigration policy should be driven by our best judgment of what is in the economic interest of the United States and what is in the best interest of the American worker. President Obama recognizes that an orderly, controlled border and an immigration system designed to meet our economic needs are important pillars of a healthy and robust economy.

Strengthen Border Control

President Obama will protect the integrity of our borders by investing in additional personnel, infrastructure, and technology on the border and at our ports of entry.

Improve Our Immigration System

President Obama will fix the dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy and enable legal immigration so that families can stay together.

Remove Incentives to Enter Illegally

President Obama will remove incentives to enter the country illegally by preventing employers from hiring undocumented workers and enforcing the law.

Bring People Out of the Shadows

President Obama supports a system that allows undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens.

Work with Mexico

President Obama will promote economic development in Mexico to decrease the economic desperation that leads to illegal immigration.

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