President Obama’s Speech on Immigration Reform

Click on the picture to access CSPAN's full video of the President's July 1st, 2010 speech on immigration.

Here’s President Obama’s entire transcript of what he said during his speech.

Positive: the President mentioned the DREAM Act.  Called out the mistaken notion that taking on immigration reform is “bad politics”.  Pointed out what few dare to admit with the passing of immigration laws similar to Arizona: how they actually increase crime because they plant fear in immigrants and deter them from trusting police to report crimes.  Recognized the nature of the humanitarian crisis going on in our borders: having thousands upon thousands of human beings risk their lives, with many dying in their treks in the quest to escape oppressive poverty for themselves and their families.

Negative: on parts of the speech the President relied too much on conservative buzz phrases, which tends to constrict the immigration debate to issues of legalese rather than on fighting the extreme poverty that drives people to flee their countries in the first place to take refuge in the U.S. economy, in other words: the root of “illegal immigration”.

Evocative: the choice of location was designed to evoke the memory of Senator Ted Kennedy, who was an icon for Latinos and other immigrants in the advancement of their civil rights.

Follow up questions: what was the purpose of the speech? It was powerful, as President Obama’s speeches usually are.  There was no mention of a specific timeline for next steps, no mention of what are the actual next steps, no actual commitment to pass a specific part of immigration reform (like the DREAM Act, for example).  Was the speech intended to be more of a campaign promise for the Latino vote going into the upcoming difficult midterm elections?

Update: Reform Immigration for America has a great tool to send a message to Republicans to stop standing in the way of immigration reform.  Click here to send a fax to them. Putting pressure on the Republicans is a good starting point but Democrats and the President himself need to be held accountable as well.  Besides federal action against Arizona’s new authoritarian police law, we need a down payment on immigration reform this year.  Enough stalling; a DREAM Act and an AgJobs Bill would be two good down payments, starting with the DREAM Act.  America’s Voice Online has this great tool to tell the President and Congress to move the DREAM Act forward.  Here’s the petition too.