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Obama Brainstorms With Influential Hispanic Leaders

WASHINGTON - In a meeting in the Roosevelt Room, the President and Senior Administration officials met with influential Hispanics from across the country to discuss the importance of fixing the broken immigration system for our nation’s 21st century economic and security needs so that America can win the future. The President reiterated his deep disappointment that Congressional action on immigration reform has stalled and that the DREAM Act failed to pass in the U.S. Senate after passing the U.S. House with a bipartisan majority in December.

The President talked about the broken immigration system, including concerns he heard about when he met with leaders from the law enforcement, faith and business sectors last week. The President reiterated his concern that we educate the best and brightest but then ship that talent overseas or expel talented young people who have grown up as Americans and want to further their education or serve in our military. The President reiterated his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform that both strengthens security at our borders while restoring accountability to the broken immigration system, and pointed out that perpetuating a broken immigration system is not an option if America is to win the future.

The President also noted that the only way to fix what’s broken about our immigration system is through legislative action in Congress, and that he cannot unilaterally change the law. He made it clear that while his Administration continues to improve our legal immigration system, secure our borders, and enhance our immigration enforcement so that it is more effectively and sensibly focused on criminals, more voices are needed to elevate the immigration debate beyond the politics, false debates, and rhetoric that have dominated the issue.

The President urged meeting participants to help elevate the debate, and to reach out in their unique capacities and in a public way to forge partnerships across sectors and across demographics. There was broad agreement that more voices are needed to change the tone of the debate so that Congress acts to fix the broken system in a way that upholds America's history as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. The President reaffirmed that he will continue to work to forge bipartisan consensus and will intensify efforts to lead a civil debate on this issue in the coming weeks and months. Prior to meeting with the President, senior Administration officials also briefed participants on a range of issues of importance to Hispanics and all Americans including the economy and education.



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