Responding to question about his immigration reform strategy, Obama had this to say:
We can't continue with a broken immigration system. It's not good for anybody. It's not good for American workers. It's dangerous for Mexican would- be workers who are trying to cross a dangerous border. It is putting a strain on border communities, who oftentimes have a deal with a host of undocumented workers. And it keeps those undocumented workers in the shadows, which means they can be exploited at the same time as they're depressing U.S. wages.
In the meantime, what we're trying to do is take some core -- some key administrative steps to move the process along, to lay the groundwork for legislation, because the American people need some confidence that if we actually put a package together, we can execute.
So [Homeland Security Secretary] Janet Napolitano, who has great knowledge of this, because of having been a border governor, she's already in the process of reviewing and figuring out, how can we strengthen our border security, in a much more significant way than we're doing?
If the American people don't feel like you can secure the borders, then it's hard to strike a deal that would get people out of the shadows and on the pathway to citizenship, who are already here, because the attitude of the average American is going to be, well, you're just going to have hundreds of thousands more coming in each year.
On the other side of the debate:
The Obama administration also reiterated its plan to pursue employers who knowingly hire and exploit illegal workers. Guidelines sent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents yesterday call for imposing fines and pressing criminal charges against employers who break the law, according to the Associated Press. The priority is to go after employers, but the policy says agents will continue to arrest illegal workers as long as local US attorneys commit to prosecuting cases against their employers.
Napolitano has said the agency will focus on ``renewing a priority on employers who are making money off of these illegal immigrants and giving them jobs that should be going to American workers.''
In 2008, ICE brought criminal charges against 135 employers and 968 workers.