The President and Vice President met with a bipartisan group of Congressional leaders today to discuss one of today's most contentious issues – immigration – and how to go about reforming the broken immigration system. The President stated
that the Administration is fully behind comprehensive immigration reform, and that they will be working with House and Senate leaders to have an honest conversation about the issues and come up with practical solutions:
We have members of Congress from both chambers, from parties, who have participated in the meeting and shared a range of ideas. I think the consensus is that despite our inability to get this passed over the last several years, the American people still want to see a solution in which we are tightening up our borders, or cracking down on employers who are using illegal workers in order to drive down wages – and oftentimes mistreat those workers. And we need a effective way to recognize and legalize the status of undocumented workers who are here.
While Congressional leaders are working to tackle the complexities of immigration reform, the Administration has already taken steps to improve the system. The FBI has cleared much of the backlog of immigration background checks, the Department of Homeland Security is speeding up citizenship petitions and in conjunction with the Department of Labor, they are working to crack down on employers who are exploiting illegal workers. The President also announced a new collaborative effort that will utilize technology to improve legal immigration:
Today I'm pleased to announce a new collaboration between my Chief Information Officer, my Chief Performance Officer, my Chief Technologies Officer and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Office to make the agency much more efficient, much more transparent, much more user-friendly than it has been in the past.
In the next 90 days, USCIS will launch a vastly improved Web site that will, for the first time ever, allow applicants to get updates on their status of their applications via e-mail and text message and online. And anybody who's dealt with families who are trying to deal with – navigate the immigration system, this is going to save them huge amounts of time standing in line, waiting around, making phone calls, being put on hold. It's an example of some things that we can do administratively even as we're working through difficult issues surrounding comprehensive immigration.
And the idea is very simple here: We're going to leverage cutting-edge technology to reduce the unnecessary paperwork, backlogs, and the lack of transparency that's caused so many people so much heartache.
(President Barack Obama talks with members of Congress to discuss immigration, Thursday, June 25, 2009, in the State Dinning Room of the White House. From left; Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, Rep. Luis Guitierrez, D-Ill., Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., Rep. James Clyburn, D - S.C. the president, Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)