On Wednesday during a press conference in Southern California, President Barack Obama said he is still for “comprehensive immigration reform,” the Associated Press reports. He made the comments during the town hall-style conference, after being asked about the touchy, now largely forgotten subject.
The president also believes that the U.S. needs to strengthen its borders, briefly bringing up the subject of the increasing drug trafficking problem, and at the same time be able to give its 12 million illegal immigrants viable ways to become citizens. “We're going to strengthen our borders—and I'm going to be going to Mexico, I'm going to be working with President Calderón to figure out how we get control over the border that's become more violent because of the drug trade. We have to combine that with cracking down on employers who are exploiting undocumented workers.”
Undocumented immigrants who have been in the country a long time, Obama said, should have a way to achieve legal status. But before this can happen, “[they] are going to pay a significant fine. [They] are going to learn English. [They] are going to go to the back of the line” of people applying for legal residency through the normal channels.
“If [undocumented workers] stay in the shadows,” he said, “in the underground economy, then they are oftentimes pitted against American workers,” which could lead to their abuse by potential employers and a reduction in wages for everyone.