Thursday, June 30, 2011

Transcript of Obama press conference on Gunwalker.

Courtesy of the Wall street Journal.

THE PRESIDENT: Antonieta Cádiz? There you are.

Q Thank you very much, Mr. President. First, if you receive a mandatory E-verify bill only without legalization, are you planning to veto that deal?

And second, on Fast and Furious, members of Congress and the government of Mexico are still waiting for answers. Are you planning to replace ATF leadership? And when can we expect the results of the current investigation?

THE PRESIDENT: On the second question, as you know, my attorney general has made clear that he certainly would not have ordered gun running to be able to pass through into Mexico. The investigation is still pending. I’m not going to comment on a current investigation. I’ve made very clear my views that that would not be an appropriate step by the ATF, and we got to find out how that happened. As soon as the investigation is completed, I think appropriate actions will be taken.

With respect to E-verify, we need comprehensive immigration reform. I’ve said it before. I will say it again. I will say it next week. And I’ll say it six months from now. We’ve got to have a system that makes sure that we uphold our tradition as a nation of laws and that we also uphold our tradition as a nation of immigrants. And that means tough border security, going after employers that are illegally hiring and exploiting workers, making sure that we also have a pathway for legal status for those who are living in the shadows right now.

We may not be able to get everything that I would like to see in a package, but we have to have a balanced package. E-verify can be an important enforcement tool if it’s not riddled with errors, if U.S. citizens are protected — because what I don’t want is a situation in which employers are forced to set up a system that they can’t be certain works. And we don’t want to expose employers to the risk where they end up rejecting a qualified candidate for a job because the list says that that person is an illegal immigrant, and it turns out that the person isn’t an illegal immigrant. That wouldn’t be fair for the employee and would probably get the employer in trouble as well.

So I think the goal right now is to let’s continue to see if we can perfect the E-verify system. Let’s make sure that we have safeguards in place to prevent the kind of scenarios that I talked about. But let’s also not lose sight of some of the other components to immigration reform. For example, making sure that DREAM Act kids — kids who have grown up here in the United States, think of themselves as Americans, who are not legal through no fault of their own, and who are ready to invest and give back to our country and go to school and fight in our military and start businesses here — let’s make sure that those kids can stay.

We need to have a more balanced approach than just a verification system.

Q (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT: I don’t have an answer as to whether the investigation is completed yet, and it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment on the investigation if I don’t — if it’s not yet completed.

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