U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today accompanied President Obama during a speech at American University in Washington, where the president called for comprehensive immigration reform. Secretary Solis issued the following statement in support of the president's message:
"There are defining moments in a nation's history, when its leaders are called upon to act decisively and irrespective of party or geography. This is such a moment.
"There has been a lot of back and forth about the topic of immigration. Democrats and Republicans alike agree the current system does not work and that it is unacceptable to have 11 million people living outside our established system in the United States. Unfortunately, too many of the facts in the debate over the right way to tackle this problem have been clouded by heated rhetoric. Today, the president spoke plainly and directly with the American people. He underscored the importance of fixing our broken immigration system through commonsense, comprehensive immigration reform and urged lawmakers to return to the table to iron out a real solution.
"The president's approach of fixing 'not just the border, but also the path' is supported by law enforcement officials who understand that immigration reform will make it easier for them to keep our communities safe, and by men and women of faith who grasp the moral imperatives of the challenge. It is supported by business and labor leaders, who know we need to build our economy on a system that works, and by everyone in America who understands the importance of fostering the incredible talent brought to our shores for the sake of our shared success in a global economy.
"Underlying the president's message are the principles of responsibility and accountability. For starters, those living in the United States illegally would have to admit that they broke the law. They would have to pay taxes and a penalty. They would also need to learn English and get right with the law before they can get in line to earn their citizenship.
"In the same spirit, the president's administration remains committed to protecting America's borders and to enforcing our existing laws. For instance, we will continue to ensure that employers who play by the rules are not put at a disadvantage by those who exploit undocumented workers. Those businesses -- the ones who break the law -- undermine the efforts of the American worker and will be held accountable.
"While President Obama's resolve to fix the broken immigration system is unwavering, he cannot do it alone. There must be bipartisan resolve -- in both the context of legal and illegal immigration -- in the United States Congress to get it done. In the past, immigration reform bills have garnered support from both parties. In fact, 11 of the 23 Republican senators who voted for a bipartisan bill in 2006 are still in the Senate. But not one of them has been willing to sit down and work together to fix the broken system we currently have.
"This problem has been kicked down the road for far too long. It is time that stops. Partisan obstructionism cannot be allowed to derail change that is both right and necessary. So, today, I echo the president's urgent call for cooperation and results on comprehensive immigration reform. We can and must get this done!"