Obama: Immigration Reform Will Allow Illegal Immigrants to Become Legal and Get Health Care Coverage

By Nicholas Ballasy | September 18, 2009 | 10:49 AM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - President Barack Obama told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) on Wednesday evening that illegal immigrants would not get government funded health insurance under his health care reform, but said the debate over that plan underscores the need to legalize illegal immigrants so they can get that coverage. 
“As you know there’s been a little controversy about who exactly will be covered under reform,” said Obama. “I want to be clear: If someone is here illegally, they won’t be covered under this plan. That’s a commitment I’ve made.

“But I also want to make this clear: Even though I do not believe we can extend coverage to those who are here illegally, I also don't simply believe we can ignore the fact that our immigration system is broken," the president said. 
"That's why I strongly support making sure folks who are here legally have access to affordable, quality health insurance under this plan, just like everybody else,” he added. “And we certainly should not let this debate on health care--one that’s so essential to Hispanic Americans and all Americans--get side tracked by those looking to exploit division and kill reform at any cost. That’s what they always try to do.
"If anything, this debate underscores the necessity of passing comprehensive immigration reform and resolving the issue of 12 million undocumented people living and working in this country once and for all," Obama said. "That's what I've said from the start. That's what I say tonight."

Last month in Guadalajara, Mexico, President Obama said that he was "confident" he would get Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform that included a "pathway to citizenship" for illegal aliens.

Obama was speaking Wednesday night at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s 32nd Annual Awards Gala.