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  • The President: Well, it is good to be back in Las Vegas!

  • (applause)

  • And it is good to be among so many good friends.

  • Let me start off by thanking everybody at Del Sol High School

  • for hosting us.

  • (applause)

  • Go Dragons!

  • Let me especially thank your outstanding principal,

  • Lisa Primas.

  • (applause)

  • There are all kinds of notable guests here,

  • but I just want to mention a few.

  • First of all, our outstanding Secretary of the Department of

  • Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, is here.

  • (applause)

  • Our wonderful Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar.

  • (applause)

  • Former Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis.

  • (applause)

  • Two of the outstanding members of the congressional delegation

  • from Nevada, Steve Horsford and Dina Titus.

  • (applause)

  • Your own mayor, Carolyn Goodman.

  • (applause)

  • But we also have some mayors that flew in because they know

  • how important the issue we're going to talk about today is.

  • Marie Lopez Rogers from Avondale, Arizona.

  • (applause)

  • Kasim Reed from Atlanta, Georgia.

  • (applause)

  • Greg Stanton from Phoenix, Arizona.

  • (applause)

  • And Ashley Swearengin from Fresno, California.

  • (applause)

  • And all of you are here, as well as some of the top labor leaders

  • in the country.

  • And we are just so grateful.

  • Some outstanding business leaders are here as well.

  • And of course, we've got wonderful students here,

  • so I could not be prouder of our students.

  • (applause)

  • Now, those of you have a seat, feel free to take a seat.

  • I don't mind.

  • Audience Member: I love you, Mr. President!

  • The President: I love you back.

  • (applause)

  • Now, last week, I had the honor of being sworn in for a second

  • term as President of the United States.

  • (applause)

  • And during my inaugural address, I talked about how making

  • progress on the defining challenges of our time doesn't

  • require us to settle every debate or ignore every

  • difference that we may have, but it does require us to find

  • common ground and move forward in common purpose.

  • It requires us to act.

  • I know that some issues will be harder to lift than others.

  • Some debates will be more contentious.

  • That's to be expected.

  • But the reason I came here today is because of a challenge where

  • the differences are dwindling; where a broad consensus is

  • emerging; and where a call for action can now be heard coming

  • from all across America.

  • I'm here today because the time has come for common-sense,

  • comprehensive immigration reform.

  • (applause)

  • The time is now.

  • (applause)

  • Now is the time.

  • (applause)

  • Now is the time.

  • (applause)

  • Now is the time.

  • Audience: (chanting) Sí se puede!

  • The President: Now is the time.

  • Audience: (chanting) Sí se puede!

  • The President: I'm here because most Americans agree that it's time to fix a

  • system that's been broken for way too long.

  • I'm here because business leaders, faith leaders,

  • labor leaders, law enforcement, and leaders from both parties

  • are coming together to say now is the time to find a better way

  • to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America

  • as the land of opportunity.

  • Now is the time to do this so we can strengthen our economy and

  • strengthen our country's future.

  • Think about it -- we define ourselves as a nation

  • of immigrants.

  • That's who we are -- in our bones.

  • The promise we see in those who come here from every corner of

  • the globe, that's always been one of our greatest strengths.

  • It keeps our workforce young.

  • It keeps our country on the cutting edge.

  • And it's helped build the greatest economic engine the

  • world has ever known.

  • After all, immigrants helped start businesses like Google

  • and Yahoo!.

  • They created entire new industries that, in turn,

  • created new jobs and new prosperity for our citizens.

  • In recent years, one in four high-tech startups in America

  • were founded by immigrants.

  • One in four new small business owners were immigrants,

  • including right here in Nevada --

  • folks who came here seeking opportunity and now want to

  • share that opportunity with other Americans.

  • But we all know that today, we have an immigration system

  • that's out of date and badly broken;

  • a system that's holding us back instead of helping us grow our

  • economy and strengthen our middle class.

  • Right now, we have 11 million undocumented immigrants in

  • America; 11 million men and women from all over the world

  • who live their lives in the shadows.

  • Yes, they broke the rules.

  • They crossed the border illegally.

  • Maybe they overstayed their visas.

  • Those are facts.

  • Nobody disputes them.

  • But these 11 million men and women are now here.

  • Many of them have been here for years.

  • And the overwhelming majority of these individuals aren't looking

  • for any trouble.

  • They're contributing members of the community.

  • They're looking out for their families.

  • They're looking out for their neighbors.

  • They're woven into the fabric of our lives.

  • Every day, like the rest of us, they go out and try to earn

  • a living.

  • Often they do that in a shadow economy --

  • a place where employers may offer them less than the minimum

  • wage or make them work overtime without extra pay.

  • And when that happens, it's not just bad for them,

  • it's bad for the entire economy.

  • Because all the businesses that are trying to do the right thing

  • -- that are hiring people legally, paying a decent wage,

  • following the rules -- they're the ones who suffer.

  • They've got to compete against companies that are

  • breaking the rules.

  • And the wages and working conditions of American workers

  • are threatened, too.

  • So if we're truly committed to strengthening our middle class

  • and providing more ladders of opportunity to those who are

  • willing to work hard to make it into the middle class,

  • we've got to fix the system.

  • We have to make sure that every business and every worker in

  • America is playing by the same set of rules.

  • We have to bring this shadow economy into the light so that

  • everybody is held accountable -- businesses for who they hire,

  • and immigrants for getting on the right side of the law.

  • That's common sense.

  • And that's why we need comprehensive

  • immigration reform.

  • (applause)

  • There's another economic reason why we need reform.

  • It's not just about the folks who come here illegally and have

  • the effect they have on our economy.

  • It's also about the folks who try to come here legally but

  • have a hard time doing so, and the effect that has on

  • our economy.

  • Right now, there are brilliant students from all over the world

  • sitting in classrooms at our top universities.

  • They're earning degrees in the fields of the future,

  • like engineering and computer science.

  • But once they finish school, once they earn that diploma,

  • there's a good chance they'll have to leave our country.

  • Think about that.

  • Intel was started with the help of an immigrant who studied here

  • and then stayed here.

  • Instagram was started with the help of an immigrant who studied

  • here and then stayed here.

  • Right now in one of those classrooms,

  • there's a student wrestling with how to turn their big idea --

  • their Intel or Instagram -- into a big business.

  • We're giving them all the skills they need to figure that out,

  • but then we're going to turn around and tell them to start

  • that business and create those jobs in China or India or Mexico

  • or someplace else?

  • That's not how you grow new industries in America.

  • That's how you give new industries to our competitors.

  • That's why we need comprehensive immigration reform.

  • (applause)

  • Now, during my first term, we took steps to try and patch up

  • some of the worst cracks in the system.

  • First, we strengthened security at the borders so that we could

  • finally stem the tide of illegal immigrants.

  • We put more boots on the ground on the southern border than at

  • any time in our history.

  • And today, illegal crossings are down nearly 80% from their peak

  • in 2000.

  • (applause)

  • Second, we focused our enforcement efforts on criminals

  • who are here illegally and who endanger our communities.

  • And today, deportations of criminals is at its highest

  • level ever.

  • (applause)

  • And third, we took up the cause of the DREAMers --

  • the young people who were brought to this country

  • as children.

  • (applause)

  • Young people who have grown up here,

  • built their lives here, have futures here.

  • We said that if you're able to meet some basic criteria like

  • pursuing an education, then we'll consider offering you the

  • chance to come out of the shadows so that you can live

  • here and work here legally, so that you can finally have the

  • dignity of knowing you belong.

  • But because this change isn't permanent,

  • we need Congress to act -- and not just on the DREAM Act.

  • We need Congress to act on a comprehensive approach that

  • finally deals with the 11 million undocumented immigrants

  • who are in the country right now.

  • That's what we need.

  • (applause)

  • Now, the good news is that for the first time in many years,

  • Republicans and Democrats seem ready to tackle this

  • problem together.

  • (applause)

  • Members of both parties, in both chambers,

  • are actively working on a solution.

  • Yesterday, a bipartisan group of senators announced their

  • principles for comprehensive immigration reform,

  • which are very much in line with the principles I've proposed and

  • campaigned on for the last few years.

  • So at this moment, it looks like there's a genuine desire to get

  • this done soon, and that's very encouraging.

  • But this time, action must follow.

  • We can't allow immigration reform to get bogged down in an

  • endless debate.

  • We've been debating this a very long time.

  • So it's not as if we don't know technically what needs

  • to get done.

  • As a consequence, to help move this process along,

  • today I'm laying out my ideas for immigration reform.

  • And my hope is that this provides some key markers to

  • members of Congress as they craft a bill,

  • because the ideas I'm proposing have traditionally been

  • supported by both Democrats like Ted Kennedy and Republicans like

  • President George W. Bush.

  • You don't get that match up very often.

  • (laughter)

  • So we know where the consensus should be.

  • Now, of course, there will be rigorous debate about many of

  • the details, and every stakeholder should engage in

  • real give and take in the process.

  • But it's important for us to recognize that the foundation

  • for bipartisan action is already in place.

  • And if Congress is unable to move forward in a timely

  • fashion, I will send up a bill based on my proposal and insist

  • that they vote on it right away.

  • (applause)

  • So the principles are pretty straightforward.

  • There are a lot of details behind it.

  • We're going to hand out a bunch of paper so that everybody will

  • know exactly what we're talking about.

  • But the principles are pretty straightforward.

  • First, I believe we need to stay focused on enforcement.

  • That means continuing to strengthen security at

  • our borders.

  • It means cracking down more forcefully on businesses that

  • knowingly hire undocumented workers.

  • To be fair, most businesses