Let me finish tonight with this.
In the ideal world, people would apply to enter this country, be admitted, then devote themselves to the effort of becoming naturalized citizens.
That should be a design for the future. Any immigration bill passed by the Congress in the next months or years should take us as close as reasonably possible to the ideal. Future immigration should be legal immigration.
So how to do we get there?
One, we kill the lure of jobs for people who come to the country illegally.
Second, we do what we can to tighten the border and enforce the law against those who sneak into the country.
Third, we find a way for people living here illegally to assume a greater American life - paying taxes, participating in Social Security, learning English. We make it possible for them to eventually become US citizens.
Fourth, we find ways to get workers in this country on a short-term basis to fill jobs that would otherwise go vacant. We shouldn’t let businesses decide who becomes a long-term resident. That’s the government’s decision.
This is my ideal immigration reform, the passage of a system of laws that we, the American people, are committed to enforcing. We shouldn’t pass laws we don’t intend to fully enforce.
It is a stern but worthy test - a test I am going to insist on in every discussion here.