Illegal immigrants who come to the U.S. "to study on our dime," should be able to stay, Pres. Obama declared while promoting immigration reform to business leaders Tuesday.
"We have the opportunity when young people come to this country to study on our dime, making sure that if they're able and willing, they can stay here, start businesses of their own, contribute to our economy, help our exports," Obama said in comments made in the White House Roosevelt Room prior to his meeting with business leaders.
Obama called for a "pathway to citizenship" for illegal aliens saying that, if the government helps fund their education, they should have the option of staying in the U.S., if they please:
"They understand that if we are serious about border security, if we do a better job of streamlining the legal immigration system, if we are holding employers who aren't doing the right thing accountable, and we provide a pathway to citizenship for those who have paid a fine, learned English, are getting to the back of the line, taking their responsibilities -- that all together, these businesses are going to have more customers, we're going to see people who are currently working here, out of the shadows, paying taxes and getting right with the law. We have the opportunity when young people come to this country to study on our dime, making sure that if they're able and willing, they can stay here, start businesses of their own, contribute to our economy, help our exports.
"So this is something that has strong bipartisan support. Keep in mind that my predecessor, George W. Bush, was a strong supporter of this. We have a fascinating cross-section of people -- some unlikely bedfellows, some very liberal folks, some very conservative folks -- who all believe that now is the time to get this done. And as we saw in the Senate, there is the strong potential for bipartisan support."