“If the speaker (of the House of Representatives) proposes something that says right away: Folks aren’t being deported, families aren’t being separated, we’re able to attract top young students to provide the skills or start businesses here and then there’s a regular process of citizenship, I’m not sure how wide the divide ends up being,” said Obama in a CNN interview on Friday.
“The question is, is there more that we can do in this legislation that gets both Democratic and Republican support, but solves these broader problems, including strengthening borders and making sure that we have a legal immigration system that works better than it currently does,” he continued.
Obama said that under his immigration reform plan, illegal Caribbean and other immigrants would still have to go through “a very long process of earning citizenship” by learning English, paying back taxes and going “to the back of the line.” During his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Obama urged the US Congress to enact immigration reform that will allow the more than 10 million immigrants without legal status, including Caribbean nationals, to apply for temporary legal status and, eventually, United States citizenship.
His address was welcomed by Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, who had written to him on several occasions, urging him to suspend deportation of Caribbean immigrants.
“A policy of comprehensive immigration reform will also support our economy by preventing the exploitation of workers who lack legal status despite, in some instances, living in the United States for almost their entire lives,” Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).
Ahead of his State of the Union address, Clarke had again written to Obama to stop deporting Caribbean and other immigrants.
In a joint letter with Arizona Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva, Clarke, appealed to the president to “respond to the crisis of deportation in the undocumented community.”