Weekly Address: Fixing our Immigration System and Expanding Trade in Latin America
President Obama says that because Republicans in Congress allowed a series of harmful, automatic budget cuts—called the sequester—to take effect, important programs like Head Start are now forced to reduce their services. After travelers were stuck for hours in airports and on planes this past week, members of Congress passed a temporary band-aid measure to stop the cuts that impact airlines — but they must do more to stop cuts to vital services for the American people. That’s why it’s time for a balanced approach to deficit reduction that makes smarter cuts and reforms in the tax code while creating jobs and strengthening the middle class.
Remarks of President Barack Obama
Mexico City, Mexico
May 4, 2013
Hi, everybody. Today, I’m speaking to you from the road – a trip to Mexico and Costa Rica.
I’m here because Latin America represents an incredible opportunity for the United States, especially when it comes to my top priority as President: creating good, middle-class jobs.
On Friday, we learned that our businesses created another 176,000 jobs last month. That’s 2.2 million new jobs over the past year, and 6.8 million new jobs over the past 38 months.
But as I've said before, I won’t be satisfied until everyone who wants a job can find one. So I’m going to keep doing everything I can and going everywhere I need to go to help our businesses create jobs.
Now, one of the best ways to grow our economy is to sell more goods and services Made in America to the rest of the world. That includes our neighbors to the south.
Right now, over 40 percent of our exports go to the Americas. And those exports are growing faster than our trade with the rest of the world. That’s why I visited Latin America this week – to work with leaders to deepen our economic ties and expand trade between our nations.
In Mexico, I also talked about immigration reform, because that’s an important issue that affects both our countries.
The truth is, right now, our border with Mexico is more secure than it’s been in years. We’ve put more boots on that border than at any time in our history, and illegal crossings are down by nearly 80 percent from their peak in 2000. But we’ve got more to do – not just to secure the border but to fix an immigration system that is badly broken.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen a commonsense immigration reform bill introduced in the Senate. This bill is a compromise, which means that nobody got everything they wanted – including me. But it’s largely consistent with the principles I’ve laid out from the beginning.
It would continue to strengthen security at our borders and hold employers more accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers.
It would provide a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are already in this country illegally.
And it would modernize our legal immigration system so that we’re able to reunite families and attract the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers who will help create good paying jobs and grow our economy.
These are all commonsense steps that the majority of Americans support. So there’s no reason that immigration reform can’t become a reality this year.
In the meantime, I’ll keep working with our neighbors on our common security and our common prosperity. Millions of Americans earn a living right now because of the trade between our nations. And after this week, I’m as confident as ever that we can build on our shared heritage and values to open more markets for American businesses and create more jobs for American workers.
Thanks and have a great weekend.