President Barack Obama warned Friday that the government must enact immigration changes in immigration law or else leave the door open to “irresponsibility by others.”
A failure to act would lead to more of what Obama called “misguided” efforts like a new immigration bill in Arizona. If signed by the state’s governor, the bill would require police to question people about their immigration status if there were reason to suspect that they were in the United States illegally.
Obama said he has instructed his administration to examine the bill to see whether it violates people’s civil rights. He said the legislation threatens to “undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”
Obama spoke at a naturalization ceremony in the White House Rose Garden for 24 active duty service members from more than a dozen countries. He commended the new U.S. citizens for serving a country they could not yet call their own, while also playing by the rules and following a legal path to citizenship.
Obama said he will continue to work with lawmakers in Congress to enact comprehensive immigration changes, noting that there are 11 current Republican senators who have voted for them previously.
Arizona’s Republican Gov. Jan Brewer has until Saturday to act on the immigration bill sent to her desk. She can sign, veto or allow it to become law without her signature.
Civil rights activists have said the bill would lead to racial profiling and deter Hispanics from reporting crimes.