Full Text Obama Presidency June 22, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Immigration to Latino Leaders at the NALEO Annual Conference in Orlando





Obama Swipes at Romney in Address to Latino Officials

Source: ABC News Radio, 6-22-12


It was billed as an “official” presidential speech on policy, but President Obama thrust election year politics front and center at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials annual conference today – including direct attacks on GOP rival Mitt Romney.

“Yesterday your featured speaker came here and said that the election in November isn’t about two people; it’s not about being a Republican or Democrat or an independent; it is about the future of America. And while we’ve got a lot of differences, he and I, on this point, I could not agree more,” Obama said at the top of his remarks.

But then the president framed the 2012 race as a stark choice, with high economic stakes for Latinos and the middle class….READ MORE

Remarks by the President at the NALEO Annual Conference

Walt Disney World Resort
Orlando, Florida

1:43 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Gracias!  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  Everybody please have a seat.  Ah, it is good to be back at NALEO.  Qué placer estar aquí con tantos amigos.  (Applause.)  It is wonderful to see a lot of good friends from all across the country.  It is nice to be at Disney World.  This is now the second time I’ve come to Disney World without my daughters.  They are not happy with me.  (Laughter.)

I want to thank Secretary Solis for the introduction, and for her hard work.  She is one of the best Labor Secretaries we have ever had and she is thinking about you each and every day.  (Applause.)  I want to thank Sylvia and Arturo for their outstanding leadership.  Arturo, happy early birthday.  (Applause.)  I will not sing — don’t worry.  (Laughter.)  Welcome to the other side of the hill.  (Laughter.)

And it is especially good to have Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte here with us.  We are very proud of her.  (Applause.)  When the Senate refused to confirm Mari, I sent her to El Salvador anyway — (laughter) — because I knew she was going to do an outstanding job.  And she has.  And I’m glad to see the Senate finally confirmed her last week.  So she’s now official.  (Applause.)

Last but not least, I want to thank all of you.  It’s always nice to get out of Washington.  It’s nice to get a little Florida sunshine.  But it’s especially nice to see folks who have devoted themselves to serving their communities and their country — who’ve dedicated themselves to making people’s lives just a little bit better each and every day, at every level — school board, state legislatures, county boards.  You guys are where the rubber hits the road.  And I’ve had a chance to see many of you in your local communities and hear the stories of all your efforts and all your hopes and all your dreams — and also some of your frustrations and the hardships that are taking place.

Yesterday, your featured speaker came here and said that the election in November isn’t about two people.  It’s not about being a Republican or a Democrat or an independent.  It is about the future of America.  And while we’ve got a lot of differences, he and I, on this point I could not agree more.  This is about America’s future.  The defining issue of our time is whether we carry forward the promise that has drawn generations of immigrants to our shores, from every corner of the globe, sometimes at great risk — men and women drawn by the promise that no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter what your last name, this is a place where you can make it if you try.  This is a place where you can make it if you try.

And whether our ancestors arrived on the Mayflower or were brought here on slave ships, whether they signed in at Ellis Island or they crossed the Rio Grande, their diversity has not only enriched this country, it helped build the greatest economic engine the world has ever known.

Hungry people, striving people, dreamers, risk-takers.  People don’t come here looking for handouts.  We are a nation of strivers and climbers and entrepreneurs — the hardest-working people on Earth.  And nobody personifies these American values, these American traits, more than the Latino community.  That’s the essence of who you are.  (Applause.)

All we ask for is that hard work pays off, that responsibility is rewarded, so that if these men and women put in enough effort, they can find a good job, own their own home, send their kids to college — let their kids dream even bigger  — put away a little bit for retirement, not go bankrupt when you get sick.

And I ran for this office because for more than a decade, that dream had been slipping away from too many Americans.  Before I even took office, the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes pushed it even further from reach — particularly for a lot of Latino communities, which had already faced higher unemployment and higher poverty rates.

So the question is not whether we need to do better.  Of course the economy isn’t where it needs to be.  Of course there’s still too many who struggle.  We’ve got so much more work to do.  But the question is:  How do we make the economy grow faster?  How do we create more jobs?  How do we create more opportunity?  The question is:  What vision are we going to stand up for?  Who are we going to fight for?

That’s what we have to decide right now.  That’s what this election is about.  Who are we fighting for?  What vision of America do we believe in?

If America is about anything, it’s about passing on even greater opportunity to our children.  It’s about education.  And that’s why I expanded Pell Grants — which will give an additional 150,000 children in the Latino community a chance to go to college.  (Applause.)  That’s why I’ve invested in our community colleges, which are a gateway to a good job for so many Hispanic Americans — Americans of every stripe.  (Applause.)

That’s why schools in almost every state — some in the toughest neighborhoods around — have answered our challenge to raise their standards for teaching and learning — not by teaching to a test, but by expanding creativity, and improving curriculums, and focusing more on kids who are hardest to reach so that we give every child a fighting chance.  That’s part of the vision of America that we believe in.

In this country, we believe that if you want to take a risk on a new idea, you should have the chance to succeed.  And you shouldn’t have to have wealthy parents in order to be successful.  Latino-owned businesses have been the fastest-growing small businesses, and we’ve cut their taxes 18 times.  (Applause.)  We’ve expanded new loans and new credit so they can grow and they can hire.  That’s the vision we believe in.

In America, we believe you shouldn’t go broke because you get sick.  Hardworking people out there — sometimes two jobs, three jobs — still don’t have health insurance.  If you did have health insurance, insurance companies were able to discriminate against certain patients.  That was wrong.  It was wrong to let insurance companies just jack up premiums for no reason, and to have millions of working Americans uninsured —  with the Latino community having the highest rate of uninsured of any community in the country.

So after a century of trying, we finally passed reform that will make health care affordable and available for every American.  (Applause.)  That was the right thing to do.  That was the right thing to do.  That was the right thing to do.  (Applause.)

Now, we’re not done yet.  We’ve got more to do.  We need to put more good teachers in our classrooms.  (Applause.)  We need to get colleges and universities to bring down the cost of tuition to make it more affordable for more young people.  (Applause.)

We need to invest in new research and innovation — especially new sources of energy and high-tech manufacturing.  We need to put people back to work rebuilding our roads and our highways and our runways.  Construction jobs can have a huge ripple effect in communities all across the country.  And nobody knows it better than state and local officials.  You know the difference it makes.  And with the housing bubble bursting, we’ve got tens of thousands of construction workers just ready and eager to get to work.

We need to give families in hard-hit housing markets like Florida and Nevada the chance to refinance and save $3,000 a year on their mortgage.  That’s good for those families.  It’s good for the housing market.  It’s good for the surrounding community.  There’s no reason why Congress hasn’t already done it.  (Applause.)

Instead of just talking a big game about “job creators,” we should give small business owners a tax break for hiring more workers or for paying higher wages.  Instead of rewarding companies that ship jobs overseas, we should take that money and use it to cover moving expenses for companies who are bringing jobs back to America.  (Applause.)

On almost every issue of concern to your community, to every community, what’s holding us back isn’t a lack of big ideas.  It’s not a lack of technical solutions.  By now, just about every policy and proposal has been laid out on the table.  What’s holding us back is a stalemate — a stalemate in Washington between two fundamentally different views of which direction we should go.

The Republicans who run Congress, the man at the top of their ticket, they don’t agree with any of the proposals I just talked about.  They believe the best way to grow the economy is from the top down.  So they want to roll back regulations, and give insurance companies and credit card companies and mortgage lenders even more power to do as they please.  They want to spend $5 trillion on new tax cuts — including a 25-percent tax cut for every millionaire in the country.  And they want to pay for it by raising middle-class taxes and gutting middle-class priorities like education and training and health care and medical research.

And that’s it.  That’s it.  That’s their economic plan.  When they tell you they can do better, that’s their idea of doing better.  When they tell you they know how to fix the economy, that’s exactly how they plan to do it.  And I think they’re wrong.  I think they’re wrong.  (Applause.)

In this country, prosperity has never come from the top down — it comes from a strong and growing middle class, and creating ladders of opportunity for all those who are striving to get into the middle class.  It comes from successful, thriving small businesses that over time grow into medium-size and then large businesses.

We don’t need more top-down economics.  What we need is a better plan for education and training, and energy independence, and innovation, and infrastructure that can rebuild America.  What we need is a tax code that encourages companies to create jobs and manufacturing here in the United States, and, yes, asks the wealthiest Americans to help pay down the deficit.  (Applause.)  That’s what’s needed.  (Applause.)

And what’s also needed is immigration reform that finally lives up to our heritage as a nation of laws and as a nation of immigrants, and continues the American story of renewal and energy and dynamism that’s made us who we are.  (Applause.)

I mean, think about it.  You and I both know one of America’s greatest strengths has always been our ability to attract talented, hardworking people who believe in this country, who want to help make it stronger.  That’s what keeps us young.  That’s what keeps us dynamic and energized.  That’s what makes us who we are.

But our current immigration system doesn’t reflect those values.  It allows the best and brightest to study here, but then tells them to leave, start companies somewhere else.  It punishes immigrants and businesses who play by the rules, and fails to address the fact that there are too many who don’t.  It separates families and it denies innocent young people the chance to earn an education or serve in the uniform of the country they love.

Now, once again, the problem is not the lack of technical solutions.  We know what the solutions are to this challenge.  Just six years ago, an unlikely trio — John McCain, Ted Kennedy, President Bush — came together to champion comprehensive immigration reform.  (Applause.)  I, along with a lot of Democrats, were proud to join 23 Senate Republicans in voting for it.  Today, those same Republicans have been driven away from the table by a small faction of their own party.  It’s created the same kind of stalemate on immigration reform that we’re seeing on a whole range of other economic issues.  And it has given rise to a patchwork of state laws that cause more problems than they solve and are often doing more harm than good.  (Applause.)

Now, this makes no sense.  It’s not good for America.  And as long as I am President of the United States, I will not give up the fight to change it.

In the face of a Congress that refuses to do anything on immigration, I’ve said that I’ll take action wherever I can.  So my administration has been doing what we can, without the help in Congress, for more than three years now.  And last week, we took another step.  On Friday, we announced that we’re lifting the shadow of deportation from deserving young people who were brought to this country as children.  (Applause.)

We should have passed the DREAM Act a long time ago.  It was written by members of both parties.  When it came up for a vote a year and a half ago, Republicans in Congress blocked it.  The bill hadn’t changed.  The need hadn’t changed.  The only thing that had changed was politics.  (Applause.)  The need had not changed.  The bill hadn’t changed — written with Republicans.  The only thing that had changed was politics.  And I refused to keep looking young people in the eye, deserving young people in the eye, and tell them, tough luck, the politics is too hard.

I’ve met these young people all across the country.  They’re studying in our schools.  They’re playing with our children, pledging allegiance to our flag, hoping to serve our country.  They are Americans in their hearts, in their minds. They are Americans through and through — in every single way but on paper.  And all they want is to go to college and give back to the country they love.  (Applause.)  So lifting the shadow of deportation and giving them a reason to hope — that was the right thing to do.  It was the right thing to do.  (Applause.)

It’s not amnesty.  It falls short of where we need to be –a path to citizenship.  It’s not a permanent fix.  This is a temporary measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while offering some justice to these young people.  But it’s precisely because it’s temporary, Congress still needs to come up with a long-term immigration solution — rather than argue that we did this the wrong way or for the wrong reasons.

So to those who are saying Congress should be the one to fix this — absolutely.  For those who say we should do this in a bipartisan fashion — absolutely.  My door has been open for three and a half years.  They know where to find me.  (Laughter.)

I’ve said time and again:  Send me the DREAM Act; I will sign it right away.  (Applause.)  And I’m still willing to work with anyone from either party who is committed to real reform.  But in the meantime, the question we should consider is this:  Was providing these young people with the opportunity for a temporary measure of relief the right thing to do?


THE PRESIDENT:  I think it was.  It’s long past time that we gave them a sense of hope.

Your speaker from yesterday has a different view.  In his speech, he said that when he makes a promise to you, he’ll keep it.  Well, he has promised to veto the DREAM Act, and we should take him at his word.  (Applause.)  I’m just saying.  (Laughter and applause.)

And I believe that would be a tragic mistake.  You do, too.

On all these issues — on the investments we need to grow the middle class and leave a better future for our kids, on deficit reduction that’s fair and balanced, on immigration reform, on consumer financial protection so that people aren’t exploited, whether at a payday loan shop or if they’re sending remittances back to their families — on all these issues, Washington has a long way to go to catch up with the rest of the country.

The whole idea behind the DREAM Act, after all, was inspired by a music teacher in Illinois.  She decided to call her Senator, Dick Durbin, when she discovered that one of her own students was forced to live in the shadows.  But even as that idea fell prey to gridlock and game-playing in Washington, it gained momentum in the rest of the country:  From every student who marched and organized to keep their classmates from being deported; from every parent who discovered the truth about the child down the street and chose to stand up for them — because these are all our kids; from every American who stood up and spoke out across the country because they saw a wrong and wanted it to be righted; who put their shoulder to the wheel and moved us a little closer towards justice.

That’s what has always moved us forward.  It doesn’t start in Washington.  It starts with a million quiet heroes who love their country and believe they can change it.

We all have different backgrounds.  We all have different political beliefs.  The Latino community is not monolithic; the African American community is not all of one mind.  This is a big country.  And sometimes, in tough times, in a country this big and busy, especially during a political year, those differences are cast in a bright spotlight.

But I ran for this office because I am absolutely convinced that what binds us together has always proven stronger than what drives us apart.  We are one people.  We need one another.  (Applause.)  Our patriotism is rooted not in race, not in ethnicity, not in creed; it is based on a shared belief in the enduring and permanent promise of America.

That’s the promise that draws so many talented, driven people to these shores.  That’s the promise that drew my own father here.  That’s the promise that drew your parents or grandparents or great grandparents — generations of people who dreamed of a place where knowledge and opportunity were available to anybody who was willing to work for it, anybody who was willing to seize it.  A place where there was no limit to how far you could go, how high you could climb.

They took a chance.  And America embraced their drive and embraced their courage — said, “Come, you’re welcome.”  This is who we are.

Every single day I walk into the Oval Office, every day that I have this extraordinary privilege of being your President, I will always remember that in no other nation on Earth could my story even be possible.  (Applause.)  That’s something I celebrate.

That’s what drives me, in every decision I make, to try and widen the circle of opportunity, to fight for that big and generous and optimistic country we inherited, to carry that dream forward for generations to come.  Because when I meet these young people, all throughout communities, I see myself.  Who knows what they might achieve.  I see my daughters and my nieces and my nephews.  Who knows what they might achieve if we just give them a chance?

That’s what I’m fighting for.  That’s what I stand for.

This fight will not always be easy.  It hasn’t always been easy.  It will not happen overnight.  Our history has been one where that march towards justice and freedom and equality has taken time.  There will always be plenty of stubborn opposition in the way that says: “No, you can’t.” “No, you shouldn’t.”  “Don’t even try.”

But America was built by people who said something different — who said:  “Yes, we can.”  Who said, “Sí, se puede.”  (Applause.)  And as long as I have the privilege of being your President, I will be alongside you, fighting for the country that we together dream of.  (Applause.)

God bless you.  Thank you, NALEO.  (Applause.)  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

2:11 P.M. EDT

Full Text Campaign Buzz June 22, 2012: GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney’s Speech on Immigration to Latino Leaders at the NALEO Annual Conference in Orlando







Romney Rips Obama’s Immigration Approach in Speech to Latinos: In a high-profile address to Latinos on Thursday, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said President Obama had “failed to address immigration reform” after promising to do so during the 2008 campaign and vowed that, if elected, he would enact comprehensive measures that would enable families to remain together and improve economically.
“I will work with Republicans and Democrats to build a long-term solution,” Romney said in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., to scattered applause from the audience. “I will prioritize efforts that strengthen legal immigration and make it more transparent and easier. And I will address the problem of illegal immigration in a civil but resolute manner. We may not always agree, but when I make a promise to you, I will keep it.”
Romney’s much-anticipated address to the annual conference held by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) came at a time when Obama’s advantage with Latinos appears to be growing…. – ABC News Radio, 6-21-12

  • Romney’s immigration promises hard to deliver: Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, speaks at the NALEO (National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials) conference in Orlando…. – AP, 6-21-12
  • Mitt Romney immigration policy: Will it win some Latino voters? (+video): In an address to Latino officials Thursday, Mitt Romney softened his tone as he laid out immigration policy. But he still won’t say whether he would first overturn Obama’s new policy to help young illegal immigrants…. – CS Monitor, 6-22-12
  • Romney reaches out to Latinos: Mitt Romney offered a family-friendly approach to the nation’s immigration woes in his first general-election outreach to Latino voters, but the modest steps that he sketched underscored the political pull-and-tug the issue has…. – LAT, 6-21-12
  • Romney Exhibits a Change in Tone on Immigration: Mitt Romney struck a more conciliatory tone toward illegal immigrants on Thursday than he took during the Republican primary season, but he backed only limited steps to address the concerns of many Hispanic voters as he … NYT, 6-21-12
  • Mitt Romney seeks ‘common ground’ on immigration issue: If elected president, Mitt Romney said in a speech to Latino officials Thursday, he will strive to “find common ground” on the issue of immigration, which has stymied presidents of both parties. Reactions from groups on both sides of the issue Thursday…. – USA Today, 6-21-12
  • Mitt Romney tries to soften image among Hispanic voters: Mitt Romney, who courted conservative Republican primary voters with hard-line opposition to illegal immigration, took a first step Thursday toward trying to soften his image among skeptical Hispanic voters — pledging to speak in a “civil and…. – WaPo, 6-21-12

Remarks To NALEO: “Growing Opportunity For All Americans”

Source: Mitt Romney, 6-21-12

Thank you for inviting me to your annual conference. It’s an honor to be here among so many dedicated elected leaders.

I come to you today as a candidate for President of the United States of America. I will govern from the principle that while this is a land of extraordinary diversity, there is much more that unites us than divides us. Though each of us walks a different path in life, we are united by one great, overwhelming passion: We love America. We believe in America.  We are one nation, under God.

Today, we are united not only by our faith in America. We are united also by our concern for America.

This country we love is in peril. That is why I am running for President.

Almost four years ago, Americans did something that was very much the sort of thing Americans like to do: We gave someone new a chance to lead; someone we hadn’t known for very long, who didn’t have much of a record but promised to lead us to a better place.

At the time, we didn’t know what sort of a President he would make. It was a moment of crisis for our economy, and when Barack Obama came to office, America wished him well and hoped for the best.

Three and a half years later, over 23 million Americans are out of work, underemployed or have just quit looking for work.  At a time when we should be gaining momentum, we’re losing it.  Job growth has slowed and this week, we learned that the number of job openings has fallen again.

Hispanics have been hit disproportionately hard.  While national unemployment is still above 8%, Hispanic unemployment is at 11%.

The middle class has been crushed under President Obama. More Americans are living in poverty today than at any point in history. Over two million more Hispanics are living in poverty today than the day President Obama took office.

Home values have plunged, our national debt is at record levels and families are buried under higher prices for food and gasoline.

And yet our President says the private sector is doing fine. This is more than a policy failure; it is a moral failure.

Now, I know the President will say that he inherited an economic crisis.  But we shouldn’t allow the challenges he faced four years ago to divert our attention from another important fact:  The President pursued policies that have made this the slowest recovery since the Great Depression.  And he broke promises many were counting on to build a brighter future.

It did not have to be this way.

Just compare this President’s record with Ronald Reagan’s first term.  President Reagan also faced an economic crisis.  In fact, in 1982, the unemployment rate peaked at nearly 11 percent. But in the two years that followed, he delivered a true recovery – economic growth and job creation were three times higher than in the Obama Economy.

If President Obama had delivered a real recovery – a Reagan recovery – we would have five million more jobs today. The unemployment rate would be about six percent. And our economy would be at least one trillion dollars larger.

Tomorrow, President Obama will speak here, for the first time since his last campaign. He may admit that he hasn’t kept every promise. And he’ll probably say that, even though you aren’t better off today than you were four years ago, things could be worse. He’ll imply that you really don’t have an alternative. He’s taking your vote for granted.

I’ve come here today with a simple message: You do have an alternative.  Your vote should be respected.  And your voice is more important now than ever before.

This November, we’ll make a choice.  We can continue along the path we’re on – or we can choose a better way.

Instead of continuing with the policies of the last three and a half years, we can revitalize our free-enterprise economy.  We can lead the world in what we invent and build and create. And let me make this very clear—this is the only way we can strengthen the middle class.  And this is the only way we can create sustained prosperity. Raising taxes to grow government does not grow the middle class.

Today, I am asking you to join me because, while we may not agree on everything, we share the same goal, the same vision, and the same belief in American greatness that draws so many to our shores.  Liberty’s torch can burn just as brightly for future generations of immigrants as it has burned for immigrants past.

We know our businesses can’t succeed, grow, and hire more workers without a more competitive tax code. That’s why I will lower our corporate tax rate, and reduce individual marginal rates by 20 percent, across the board.

We also know that our businesses and families need affordable and reliable energy.  Producing more of our energy resources will create jobs in America and generate greater revenues for America.  It will also help bring manufacturing back to our shores.

We know our economy can’t grow if we’re mortgaging our future to pay for the big government programs of today.  As President, I will rein in spending and balance the budget.  And I will repeal Obamacare.  We cannot afford another $2 trillion entitlement.  Obamacare depresses job growth.  In one study, 73 percent of business owners said that Obamacare has made it harder for them to hire people.  Repealing Obamacare and replacing it will give businesses the certainty they need to hire, expand, and grow.

We can also jumpstart our economy by expanding trade in our hemisphere.  Yet, the President has not completed a single new trade agreement with Latin America.  And he’s failed to crack down on countries like China that don’t follow the rules.

We know our kids can’t succeed if they’re trapped in failing schools. That’s why, as President, I will give the parents of every low-income and special-needs student the chance to choose where their child goes to school.  When it comes to education, a choice for every parent means a chance for every child.

An effective immigration system can also strengthen our economy, as it has since the nation’s founding.

Unfortunately, despite his promises, President Obama has failed to address immigration reform.

For two years, this President had huge majorities in the House and Senate – he was free to pursue any policy he pleased.  But he did nothing to advance a permanent fix for our broken immigration system. Instead, he failed to act until facing a tough re-election and trying to secure your vote.

Last week, the President finally offered a temporary measure that he seems to think will be just enough to get him through the election.  After three and a half years of putting every issue from loan guarantees for his donors to Cash For Clunkers before immigration, now the President has been seized by an overwhelming need to do what he could have done on Day One.  I think you deserve better.

Some people have asked if I will let stand the President’s executive action. The answer is that I will put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the President’s temporary measure.

As President, I won’t settle for a stop-gap measure.  I will work with Republicans and Democrats to find a long-term solution.  I will prioritize measures that strengthen legal immigration and make it easier. And I will address the problem of illegal immigration in a civil but resolute manner. We may not always agree, but when I make a promise to you, I will keep it.

Let me speak to a few principles that will guide me.

As I have said many times, it is critical that we redouble our efforts to secure the borders. That means both preventing illegal border crossings and making it harder to illegally overstay a visa.  We should field enough border patrol agents, complete a high-tech fence, and implement an improved exit verification system.

Our immigration system should help promote strong families, not keep them apart.  Our nation benefits when moms and dads and their kids are all living together under the same roof.  But, today, too many families are caught in a broken system that costs them time and money and entangles them in red tape.  For those seeking to come to America the right way, that kind of bureaucratic nightmare has to end.  And we can do this with just a few common-sense reforms.

As President, I will reallocate Green Cards to those seeking to keep their families under one roof.  We will exempt from caps the spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents.  And we will eliminate other forms of bureaucratic red tape that keep families from being together.

Immigration reform is not just a moral imperative, but an economic necessity as well.  Immigrants with advanced degrees start companies, create jobs, and drive innovation at a high rate.  Immigrants founded or cofounded nearly half of our 50 top venture-backed companies.  They are nearly 30 percent more likely to start a business.  And that kind of risk taking is something we need more than ever because new business starts are now at a 30-year low.

I will work with states and employers to update our temporary worker visa program so that it meets our economic needs.

And if you get an advanced degree here, we want you to stay here – so we will staple a green card to your diploma. We want the best and brightest to enrich the nation through the jobs and technologies they will help create.

We also have a strong tradition in this country of honoring immigrants who join our military and put their lives on the line to keep this country safe. Since September 11, 2001, the United States has naturalized almost 75,000 members of the Armed Forces. Too many of these patriots died on distant battlefields for our freedom before receiving full citizenship here in the country they called “home.”

As President, I will stand for a path to legal status for anyone who is willing to stand up and defend this great nation through military service. Those who have risked their lives in defense of America have earned the right to make their life in America.

But improving access to legal immigration is only one part of the equation. We must also make legal immigration more attractive than illegal immigration, so that people are rewarded for waiting patiently in line. That’s why my administration will establish a strong employment verification system so that every business can know with confidence that the people it hires are legally eligible for employment.

We can find common ground here, and we must. We owe it to ourselves as Americans to ensure that our country remains a land of opportunity – both for those who were born here and for those who share our values, respect our laws, and want to come to our shores.

I’ve spoken often about how proud I am of my father.  He was born to American parents living in Mexico. When he was five, they left everything behind, and started over in the United States.

His dad – my grandfather – was a builder who went bust more than once. My grandfather didn’t make much money.  There were times in my dad’s life when he lived in poverty.   But my grandfather had big hopes for my dad, and tried to help him as best he could.

My Dad didn’t finish college. But he believed in a country where the circumstances of one’s birth were not a barrier to achievement – and he wasn’t afraid of hard work.  He held odd jobs – lath and plaster and selling paint.  He was lucky enough to live in America, where hard work can turn aspirations into realities. And he became the leader of a great car company and the governor of a great state.

This is my father’s story – but it could be any American’s. Most of you here today are leaders in your community. You are here because you have benefitted from this land of opportunity, and you want to give back to this country, to fight for its people, so that they have the same chance to succeed.

We are truly one America. Everyone here has made this exceptional nation what it is today.

This isn’t an election about two people.  This isn’t an election about being a Republican, Democrat, or an independent.  This is an election about the future of America.  I would ask each of you to look at the last three and a half years, and ask whether we can do better.

Is the America of 11% Hispanic unemployment the America of our dreams?  I know we can do better.  We can prosper again, with the powerful recovery we have all been waiting for, the good jobs that so many still need, and, above all, the opportunities we owe to our children and grandchildren.

Thank you all, and God bless America.

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