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Blueprint for Building a 21st Century Immigration System, May 2011

Published May 10, 2011

The White House released this document on immigration policy on May 10, 2011. The introduction states,

"Today, President Obama reiterated his deep commitment to fixing the broken immigration system and outlined his vision for a 21st century immigration policy:

•Responsibility by the federal government to secure our borders: Today, our borders are more secure than at any time in the past several decades and the Administration continues to refine and strengthen its strategy. Enforcement resources should be focused on preventing those who would do our nation harm from entering our country.

•Accountability for businesses that break the law by undermining American workers and exploiting undocumented workers: Employers who deliberately hire and exploit undocumented workers must be held accountable. At the same time, we must give employers who want to play by the rules a reliable way to verify that their employees are here legally.

•Strengthening our economic competiveness by creating a legal immigration system that reflects our values and diverse needs: Our immigration laws should continue to reunify families and encourage individuals we train in our world-class institutions to stay and develop new technologies and industries in the United States rather than abroad. The law should stop punishing innocent young people whose parents brought them here illegally and give those young men and women a chance to stay in this country if they serve in the military or pursue higher education. A smart 21st century system should also provide farmers a legal way to hire the workers they rely on year after year, and it should improve procedures for employers who seek to hire foreign workers for jobs if U.S. workers are not available.

•Responsibility from people who are living in the United States illegally: Those people living here illegally must also be held accountable for their actions and get on the right side of the law by registering and undergoing national security and criminal background checks, paying taxes and a penalty, and learning English before they can get in line to become eligible for citizenship. Being a citizen of this country comes not only with rights but also with fundamental responsibilities. We can create a pathway for legal status that is fair and reflects our values.


What follows is an update on the progress we have made in securing our borders, enforcing our laws, and improving our immigration system, a summary of the economic benefits of our proposed immigration reforms, and an outline of the challenges we must tackle and the solutions we must implement if we are to build a 21st century immigration system."

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