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Remarks by the President Before Meeting with Business Leaders on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

THE PRESIDENT: In addition to talking about the Red Sox -- (laughter) -- we are here to talk about immigration reform. We've got an outstanding group of leaders here, a wide cross-section of industry; we've got manufacturers, service sector, food, high-tech. And they represent just a small cross-section of the businesses all across the country who are deeply committed to making sure that we get comprehensive immigration reform done, and done quickly.

Just last week, we had 600 business and faith leaders who came to emphasize that this is something that is not only the right thing to do, but it's also critical to our economy. We know that the Senate bipartisan bill that already passed would grow the economy by $1.4 trillion above and beyond the growth that's already taking place. We know it will reduce our deficit by $850 billion. This is not -- these aren't my estimates. These are independent estimates that had been made about the salutary effect that comprehensive immigration reform will have on our economy. And these businesses understand that.

They understand that if we are serious about border security, if we do a better job of streamlining the legal immigration system, if we are holding employers who aren't doing the right thing accountable, and we provide a pathway to citizenship for those who have paid a fine, learned English, are getting to the back of the line, taking their responsibilities -- that all together, these businesses are going to have more customers, we're going to see people who are currently working here, out of the shadows, paying taxes and getting right with the law. We have the opportunity when young people come to this country to study on our dime, making sure that if they're able and willing, they can stay here, start businesses of their own, contribute to our economy, help our exports.

So this is something that has strong bipartisan support. Keep in mind that my predecessor, George W. Bush, was a strong supporter of this. We have a fascinating cross-section of people -- some unlikely bedfellows, some very liberal folks, some very conservative folks -- who all believe that now is the time to get this done. And as we saw in the Senate, there is the strong potential for bipartisan support.

So what I'm going to be talking to the business community about is how we can continue to amplify this issue in the coming weeks. There's no reason why we can't get this done before the end of the year. And I continue to be hopeful that with the leadership of many who are around this table who represent hundreds of thousands of employees and billions of dollars of assets, who are important in their communities all across the country, them joining up with law enforcement, clergy, citizens, to make the case that ultimately folks up on Capitol Hill will do the right thing.

And although right now there's been some resistance from House Republicans, what's been encouraging is, is that there are a number of House Republicans who have said, we think this is the right thing to do, as well. And it's my estimation that we actually have votes to get comprehensive immigration reform done in the House right now.

The politics are challenging for the Speaker and others, and we want to make it as easy for him as possible. This is not an issue where we're looking for a political win. This is one where we're looking for a substantive win for the U.S. economy and the American people and the businesses that are represented here.

I'm very grateful to all of you who have joined us. But we're going to be pushing to make sure that we send out that clarion call up towards Capitol Hill, see if we can get this done before the end of the year.

Thank you very much, everybody.


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