President Obama Rallies Supporters of Immigration Reform

President says the current bill before Congress resembles one originally proposed by George W. Bush.
24:13 | 10/24/13

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Transcript for President Obama Rallies Supporters of Immigration Reform
This is a special room. Good morning anti Hernandez in New York with an ABC news digital special report. Immigration battle heating up again today in the nation's capital President Obama turning his attention from the obamacare web -- debacle. To another top issue of his presidency immigration reform. President about to give -- speech and we have ABC's Jim obelisk standing by live. At the white house with more Jim what we expect the president -- saying his address. -- this is a very. Almost -- in the east room is right about here -- few minutes. What is -- the two minute warning nearly getting ready room he's -- his supporters here to hear another prodding congress to move on immigration. This is sort of a ceremony type of event. The president expected to give a speech telling -- supporters why he believes that comprehensive immigration reform. Should be acted on by the congress immediately. It is to give it kind of a state of play right now time. Here's what's happening in congress the senate of course has passed the comfort and -- of immigration reform bill an -- on. To the house the house run by the Republicans -- so they're not gonna consider that comprehensive bill -- Instead with -- doing. His they've kind of divided up all the little issues and they plan on voting on -- -- But the problem is that they at this point do not have a bill in front of them the talks about a pathway to citizenship which of course is sort of the the -- the most important part. For President Obama and for the supporters of comprehensive immigration reform so -- at an impasse is what's happening now. Is the president is trying to turn the attention. But the country back on this issue after the shutdown after the problems with the obamacare he wants to get this part of the agenda up -- front center. Seems like a herculean task -- terms that get and it Republicans on board. What is the administration saying their chances are. Well they believe that they do have a chance to -- and here's the reason why comprehensive immigration reform. Is in fact broadly supported. In the country. And not just by Latino groups Hispanic groups but in this room alone. -- -- behind comprehensive immigration reform. -- members of labor. Business. Liberal and conservative in fact conservative churches. Have come out in favor of comprehensive immigration reform. Everybody has their own reasons labor of course. Is behind comprehensive immigration reform. Because. They want the more jobs. And and they hope to unionize some people. Also a big business and and small business want to make it easier to bring in labor from Mexico. To handle some of the jobs that that many here in this country don't want to hand. Very physical jobs. Such as in the fields or carpentry. Those type of construction jobs so there -- so -- support from both sides. Evangelicals. Are now in favor of comprehensive immigration reform. And that's the changing position from from conservatives. From -- from before and the reason why they -- is because their churches. Are growing largely. Through Hispanics -- -- that's who are going to their church is now. Of course the Catholic Church has long been in favor of comprehensive immigration reform so there is support among the -- there's still a problem. In the house. Four. 200 congress people. Who do not have large numbers of minorities in their districts because of the way the districts have been forward in the in the house. And so that's where the problem it's. That nagging you talked about the house wanting to sort of take on these issues and and morbid piecemeal approach than in one solid bill. Is the Obama administration open to that. No they're not they want a comprehensive immigration reform bill and what they're hoping will happen is that the house will indeed. Passed some of these individual bills and their effect is. Right now being drafted a a bill which would an individual bill which would it would create a difficult long fifteen year path to citizenship. That is being drafted in the house that -- with the White House is hoping and with supporters of immigration reform hoping. Is that those individual bills will be passed in the house. Then we'll be sent to what's called a conference committee and this -- -- long -- but that's where. Members of the house and the senate get together and -- in a room and they hammer out the differences between their two packages. In and out of that conference. Would come. 01 comprehensive immigration reform bill which would have. Parts of both what happened in the house what happened in the senate. And that bill would then be voted on in both the senate and house and that finished bill comprehensive immigration reform bill would get to them. Would get to the president for signing but it would have to include. Many of the things that are in the senate in order for the president to sign the president has said he won't sign an an individual border security bill without. Another president is coming into the room and local. Thank you very much -- police have cedar -- Good morning. And welcome to the White House. Today I'm here -- leaders from business from labor. From faith communities. Who are united around one goal. Finishing the job -- fixing a broken. Immigration system. This -- not just an idea whose time has come this is an idea whose time has been around for. Years now. Leaders like all of you have worked together -- -- Republicans and Democrats in this town in good faith. For years to try to get this not and this is the moment when we should be able to finally get the job. That's no secret that the American people haven't. Seen. Much shuttle washing them a bit like these days. The shut down. And the threat of the first default. In more than 200 years inflicted real pain on our businesses. And on families across the country and it was a completely unnecessary self inflicted wound would -- -- to real people. And it can never happen again. But even with the -- over. And the threat of default eliminated. Democrats and Republicans still have some really big disagreements there are some just fundamentally. Different views about. How we should move forward on certain issues. On the other hand as I said today after the shutdown ended. That's no reason that we should be able to work together on the things that we do -- Which -- don't work together. On a responsible budget that invests in the things that we need to grow our economy and create jobs even while we maintain fiscal discipline. We should be El -- farm bill that helps rural communities growing protects vulnerable Americans in hard times. And we should pass immigration reform. It's good for our economy. It's good -- our national security. It's good for our people. And we should do -- this year. Everybody knows that our current immigration system is broken. Across the political spectrum people understand that. We notable for years. It's not Smart to invite some of the brightest. Minds from around the world to study here. And then not. Let them start businesses here we send them back to their home countries to start businesses and create jobs. And invent new products someplace else. It's not fair to businesses. And middle class families who play by the rules. When we allow companies that are trying to undercut the rules. Work in the shadow economy. To hire folks at. Lower wages -- no benefits. -- over time. So that somehow they get a competitive edge for breaking the rules that doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense to have eleven million people. Who are in this country. Illegally. Without any of the senate. Or any way for them to come out of the shadows. Get right with the -- Meet their responsibilities. And permit their families -- to move ahead. It's not Smart its not fair. It doesn't make sense. -- kicked this particular can down the road for too long. Not the good -- this year the senate has already passed. An immigration reform bill by a wide bipartisan as the majority. That addressed all of these issues. It's a bill that would continue to strengthen our borders. It would level the playing field by holding unscrupulous employers accountable. If they knowingly hire undocumented workers. You would modernize our legal immigration system. So -- even as we train American workers for the jobs of the future were also attracting highly skilled. -- north from beyond our borders to join with us to -- -- jobs here in the United States. It would make sure that everybody plays by the same rules by providing a pathway to earned citizenship. For those were here illegally. One that includes passing a background check learning English paying taxes. Paying a penalty. Getting in line behind everyone. Who is trying to come -- the right way. So it had all the component parts of -- have everything. I want to do and have -- -- everything that anybody want but it addressed the court challenges. Of how we create -- immigration system. That is fair. It's just that is true to our traditions as a nation of laws and a nation reports. And that's passed the senate by a bi partisan majority. Saw. Here's what we also know. That the bill would grow the economy and shrink our deficits. Independent economists. Have shown that if the senate bill became law over the next two decades. Our economy would grow by one point four trillion dollars. More than that it would if we don't pass the -- It would reduce our deficits by nearly a trillion dollars. This is just the right thing to do it's the Smart thing to do. Securing our borders modernizing our legal immigration system providing a pathway to earned legalized citizenship. -- our economy. Strengthening our middle class reducing our deficits that's what common sense immigration reform will do. Obviously just because something is Smart and fair good for the economy and fiscally responsible and supported by business and labor. The evangelical community and many Democrats and many Republicans. That does not mean that it will actually get done. This -- Washington after all. So so everything tends to be viewed through -- political prism. In her ways been looking of the politics of race and I know that there are some folks in this town are -- to think well Obama sport that I'm against. But you know -- remind everybody that my Republican predecessor. Was also four. When he proposed reforms like this almost a decade ago. And I joined with -- point three senate Republicans. Backed meant to support that reform. I'd remind you that this reform one more than a dozen Republican votes in the senate in June. I'm not running for office again. I just believe is the right thing to do. And I also believe the good policy is good politics in this instance. And -- folks are relieved that consumed with the politics of fixing our broken immigration system they should look what -- closer look at the polls. Because. The American people support this. It's not something they -- -- they support it. Everybody wins here we work together to get this done. In fact if there's good reason not to pass this common sense reform I haven't heard. So anyone still standing in the way of this bipartisan reform should -- to explain why. A clear majority of the American people think it's the right thing to do. How to -- how -- we move forward Democrats. Democratic leaders. Have introduced a bill in the house. That is similar to the bipartisan senate. So now it's up to Republicans in the house to decide whether reform becomes a reality or not. I do know when this is good news that many of them agree that we need to fix our broken. Immigration system across these areas that we just discussed. And what I've said to them and I'll repeat today is if house Republicans have. New and different additional ideas for how we should move forward. Now we want to hear. I'll be listening. I know the Democrats and Republicans in the -- those who voted for immigration reform already are eager to hear. Those additional ideas. What we can't do is just sweep. The problem under the rug -- one more time leave -- for somebody else to solve sometime in the future. You know rather than create problems let's prove. Through the American people to Washington actually solves some problems. This reform comes as close to anything we've got. To a -- that will benefit. Everybody now and far into the future. So let's see if we can get this done. And let's see if we get it done this year. -- the. We've we've got the time. To do what. Republicans in the house including the speaker. Had said we should act. So let's not wait. It doesn't get easier. To just put -- -- let's do it now let's not delay. Let's get this done and let's do it in a bipartisan fashion. To those who view -- are here today. -- wanted to say one last thing and that is thank you. I want to thank you for persistence. Want to thank you for your activism. One thank you for your passion and your heart. When it comes to decision. And Alitalia if you gotta keep it up. -- when the pressure on all of us to get this done. They're going to be moments and they're always moments like this and in big efforts at reform. Where. You meet resistance. And it's the press will declare something dead. It's not gonna happen. But. That can be overcome. And -- to Sergio as I look out of this room these don't look like people who -- easily deterred. They don't look like hopefully going to give up. Look fired -- to make the next book and -- Republican. Or Democrat. Or an independent. I want you to keep working and I'm gonna be right next to -- to make sure we get immigration reform done it is time. Let's go get -- god thank you very much. They have President Obama sounding out on immigration reform on these -- for. Getting the bill that has passed through the senate half in some way shape or form through the house and happy he -- Jordan Fabian with reaction to this speech Jordan. Something like the president said anything new but what's your take away. Well he did go through the talking points he's used all -- and immigration reform. But was interesting to me was sort of the politics. Of the issue he said and now it's up to Republicans in the house to pass an immigration reform so if this doesn't get done. Obama is clearly you sort of laying blame at the feet of the Republicans in the house. For stalling this issue making that very clear. To voters in particular lets you know voters who helped him when the White House back -- points while. All right and let's also bring an ABC's Jim novelist who was sitting in the -- as the president made his speech in your take away. Well I think -- this was all about this was a pep rally as you can see these -- the supporters of the people who want immigration reform. What the president is trying to do is as you -- get them pumped up and ready to turn their attention again. I'm putting pressure on congress so the president frequently does this kind of thing -- especially when. He's not getting his way in congress he goes around them over their heads and tries to get. The grass roots movement that he built during his election campaigns. To get on board and that's what's going on now. He is trying to rally them trying to get -- to put pressure and it is as we talked about it very broad broad. Coalition. Who does support who do support. Comprehensive immigration reform from labor. To business churches. He's an end and across all parties so this is not name but the White House believes it is this is not something that should be -- Bi partisan battle like the shutdown was. There are Republicans who want to do on the conference immigration reform. The president needs at this point to link with the and to get them to move forward and that's what apparently is an attempt to you do. At the same time Jordan we've -- Republicans walk away from the shut down feeling is if they didn't get anything -- given all the political capital that they spent on that battle aren't they in a position to want to negotiate now after that. What some are calling defeat. All the signals we're hearing from Republicans in congress is that they're very reluctant to negotiate with President Obama over immigration reform. We've had a several members come out and say there's a lack of trust between. Republicans in congress in the White House and that's -- really. Squander any chance remaining this year to get immigration reform done. And we heard President Obama address those fears of Republicans during his speech today when he said. Look I'm not running for office again I just want to get this time try to extend an olive branch to the Republican Party to try to accomplish this bill by the end of this year. And we see that it -- the calling to serve a pep rally the president preaching to the choir here trying to. Exert pressure in terms of pushing public support for this issue but we -- that tactic failed time and again with the president specifically on gun control. -- why does the White House feel as if this is gonna work this time around. Well I think. They feel that there is a better chance four form because of everything that -- Jim mentioned in particular the broad support from your Republican lawmakers. Is this and labor groups religious groups this is really the only issue that on paper really has bipartisan support the only major issue left. -- president Obama's agenda and there was momentum earlier this year and they're hoping that they can recapture that if they can restore some the energy that was. Are behind the reform movement back during the summer. And yet you still have some Republicans calling. The path to citizenship amnesty. For lawbreakers still a lot of resistance at least among some Republicans -- house. Absolutely and that's going to be one of the major obstacles to getting this done. House speaker John Boehner has said he won't bring any measure before the house without a majority support. Of Republicans in his conference and bill with a path to citizenship. Doesn't appear it has that so if this is gonna happen -- might need to. Break that break that promise in and use Democrats. To try to get this done for the good of his party. All right the president mentioning some statistics eleven million illegal immigrant immigrants -- no path to citizenship right now living in the quote unquote shadows. He also talked about. This bill not just being four. Those immigrants that we think about that people who come to this country on visas to study but then have to leave and can't share what they've learned it's. By remaining in this country to work beyond -- -- going to school. Of course and that's why -- business groups support this bill so much is because. It expands the number of visas available for workers both which you know lower -- workers who -- gonna perform. In a manual labor but also high -- workers who can -- work in the tech sector Mark Zuckerberg the founder FaceBook is a major proponent of immigration reform. Just for that reason so that's something we don't hear about too often but it's a major can be -- component of the bill to pass out the senate. Pressure is there on the president to get this done there are a lot of groups that backed him specifically because of his promise to pass immigration reform. How are they sounding off right now. Well I think some of the skeptics say. Look there's not a lot of pressure on President Obama here it's a win win for him. If this you know this passes he's a hero facility -- community but if it fails Democrats can use it as a political issue in future elections. But I think that if you look in that Hispanic media in the way this issue is portrayed. President Obama gets a lot of heat for the amount of immigrants who've been deported during his presidency and maybe he doesn't want to leave office with that stain on his record. Among Latino voters to get -- vote deferment two consecutive presidential election so. I think part of him said part of him believes that yet there is a lot of -- for him here in getting this done. Tried to bottom line going forward we have the house which is passed comprehensive version of an immigration reform bill the house saying they'd rather. Take these bills -- Parton and passed them piecemeal. Where do we stand right now is there any action in the near future that we can mention. Well we are hearing some reports that Republicans are working on -- bill in the house. To provide legal status to undocumented immigrants now. The shape and form of that legal status is sort of yet to be determined. But there does appear to be some -- behind the scenes action on that and we could see action on some of those proposals as early as November. All right Jordan Fabian a fusion TV thank you very much for joining us. Thank you ABC news -- -- special report also our thanks to Jim opera the White House -- Hernandez in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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