President Barack Obama gave his first speech devoted to laying out his case for an overhaul of immigration laws since he became president.
Here is the official transcript released by the White House:
July 1, 2010
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM
American University School of International Service
11:12 A.M. EDT
« Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) Everyone please have a seat. Thank you very much. Let me thank Pastor Hybels from near my hometown in Chicago, who took time off his vacation to be here today. We are blessed to have him.
I want to thank President Neil Kerwin and our hosts here at American University; acknowledge my outstanding Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, and members of my administration; all the members of Congress — Hilda deserves applause. (Applause.) To all the members of Congress, the elected officials, faith and law enforcement, labor, business leaders and immigration advocates who are here today — thank you for your presence.
I want to thank American University for welcoming me to the campus once again. Some may recall that the last time I was here I was joined by a dear friend, and a giant of American politics, Senator Edward Kennedy. (Applause.) Teddy’s not here right now, but his legacy of civil rights and health care and worker protections is still with us.
I was a candidate for President that day, and some may recall I argued that our country had reached a tipping point; that after years in which we had deferred our most pressing problems, and too often yielded to the politics of the moment, we now faced a choice: We could squarely confront our challenges with honesty and determination, or we could consign ourselves and our children to a future less prosperous and less secure.
I believed that then and I believe it now. And that’s why, even as we’ve tackled the most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression, even as we’ve wound down the war in Iraq and refocused our efforts in Afghanistan, my administration has refused to ignore some of the fundamental challenges facing this generation.
We launched the most aggressive education reforms in decades, so that our children can gain the knowledge and skills they need to compete in a 21st century global economy.
We have finally delivered on the promise of health reform -– reform that will bring greater security to every American, and that will rein in the skyrocketing costs that threaten families, businesses and the prosperity of our nation.
We’re on the verge of reforming an outdated and ineffective set of rules governing Wall Street -– to give greater power to consumers and prevent the reckless financial speculation that led to this severe recession.
And we’re accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy by significantly raising the fuel-efficiency standards of cars and trucks, and by doubling our use of renewable energies like wind and solar power — steps that have the potential to create whole new industries and hundreds of thousands of new jobs in America.
So, despite the forces of the status quo, despite the polarization and the frequent pettiness of our politics, we are confronting the great challenges of our times. And while this work isn’t easy, and the changes we seek won’t always happen overnight, what we’ve made clear is that this administration will not just kick the can down the road.
Immigration reform is no exception. In recent days, the issue of immigration has become once more a source of fresh contention in our country, with the passage of a controversial law in Arizona and the heated reactions we’ve seen across America. Some have rallied behind this new policy. Others have protested and launched boycotts of the state. And everywhere, people have expressed frustration with a system that seems fundamentally broken.
Of course, the tensions around immigration are not new. On the one hand, we’ve always defined ourselves as a nation of immigrants — a nation that welcomes those willing to embrace America’s precepts.