Transcript: President Obama's Interview With Univision

PBO: Well, what I'm going to do is allow the Senate to work on these details. I don't want to, you know, fill in all the blanks. Because otherwise I would have gone ahead and put a bill forward. And then sometimes that creates a dynamic in Congress where if I'm for it, then maybe some people have to be against it. I think these are all legitimate questions. I think that over the next several weeks, these next several months what we'll see is many of these issues will be debated. But the basic principle would be, from my perspective, that somebody who has lived here has been overall a good neighbor … has been somebody who's been law abiding other than the fact that they came here illegally. That have put roots down here. That they should have the capacity to earn citizenship. And we'll have to make a whole range of decisions about individual cases. And we'll have to create a structure to make sure that that works. And as I said, we've got to make sure that we streamline the process for legal immigration because so much of the illegal immigration process has resulted because it's so difficult for many people to reunify with their families, and so forth.

MES: Exactly. And there were a lot of questions about that too. Now I know that you have reduced, this is another concern on Twitter, the number of deportations of non-criminals. However, in 2012 more than 184,000 non-criminals were deported. In the spirit of your push for immigration reform, would you consider a moratorium on deportations of non-criminals? Remember, these are your words: "This is not about policy. It's about people."

PBO: Well, I think it is important to remind everybody that, as I said I think previously, and I'm not a king. I am the head of the executive branch of government. I'm required to follow the law. And that's what we've done. But what I've also said is, let's make sure that we're applying the law in a way that takes into account people's humanity. That's the reason that we moved forward on deferred action. Within the confines of the law we said, we have some discretion in terms of how we apply this law. The same is true with respect to the kinds of the length of time that people have to spend outside of the country when their spouses are already here for example.

MES: Right.

PBO: So we're making some changes there. But there are still going to be stories that are heartbreaking. With respect to deportations until we get comprehensive immigration reform. That's one of the reasons I think it's so important for us to go ahead and get this action done. And keep in mind that if we're able to say, at the end of this year, or maybe even before the end of the summer, that we've gotten comprehensive immigration reform done, then that then empowers me to deal with many of these issues in a way that I think, to allow the more specific issues that a lot of people I think would like to see resolved.

MES: If you had to choose, what would be the concessions that you would be willing to make on immigration reform? And what would be completely unacceptable to you?

PBO: Well, I've been very clear about what my core principles are. I think comprehensive immigration reform has to continue and build on the work we've done to strengthen border security. It has to have provisions to strengthen the legal immigration system. And streamline it and make it easier and faster and fairer for people. And it has to have a pathway to citizenship that is real. And that people can say … "alright, I now know that if I take these steps I have a chance to stay here with my family, do the right thing, and over time, maybe down the road, be able to earn my right to take that oath and make that pledge as an American citizen." And I think, there are going to be a whole range of other issues involved in this. There are going to be some who are arguing for guest worker programs. There are going to be some issues around agricultural jobs that are very important. There are issues surrounding how do we make sure that employers are, you know, have the data that they need to check to see if somebody has a legal employment status. So there are going to be a whole range of issues and people are going to be on various sides of those issues. Let's let these Senators who have taken it upon themselves to negotiate. Let's them negotiate. We will be in consultation with them. If I see something that I think is wrong, I will let them know. But I don't want to prejudge it, since I haven't seen any details from their legislations.

MES: Before we run out of time. I have two short questions for you. In putting together your second term in the Cabinet, we noticed that there's less Latinos. Will there be room for Latinos in your new administration? People like Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa or Mayor Julian Castro?

PBO: Well, first of all, we haven't completed the formation of my Cabinet. So I'll let people judge it after all my appointments have been made whether or not we've made progress. One of my highest priorities as an administration, particularly in my second term, because now I'm thinking about legacy, is to make sure that we are identifying talent from every walk of life, from every ethnic group, so that the next President will see how big a pool there is of talent out there, that can serve and wants to serve in a Presidential administration. So we're going to redouble our efforts to recruit talented and gifted Latinos that come from every walk of life. It comes from academia, it comes from elected officials. It comes from foundations and non-for profits. Maybe some will come from the media.

MES: How interesting.

PBO: And we want to identify as much talent as possible. And you know, obviously the Latino community is growing faster than just about any other community.

MES: Right.

PBO: And that means that we've got to prepare leadership for the future, not just for today.

MES: You mentioned legacy and I will close with this question. You don't have to worry about reelection anymore now. The only thing at stake is your legacy. What do you want or what do you think your legacy will be?

PBO: Well, I spoke about my vision at the inauguration. You know, America has everything that it needs to be not just a great country, but a country that is leading the world on so many important issues. But we just have to come together and recognize what is it that is most important to us. What makes us special. And what makes us special more than anything is the fact that we believe in hard work. We believe that if you work hard you should be able to succeed, that you should be able to pay your bills and support a family. So I want to leave behind a legacy where the economy once again works for the middleclass and people who are striving to get in the middleclass. That kids who want a good education can get a good education. That everybody whose willing to work hard can make it. And the other thing is that it includes everybody. Right? That we're not saying, there's some Americans who make it, but some who don't. There's some who look like this, or some who, you know, had that sexual orientation or some people who had that perspective and somehow they're not as important. You know, what has always been a hallmark of America even when we didn't always live up to the ideal, was this ideal that, you know, we hold these truths to be self evident. That all men are created equal.

MES: And I'm sure you want people to remember you as the President that passed immigration reform. Thank you Mr. President.

PBO: Absolutely. Thank you so much. That's part of it. Thank you.

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