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Obama's 'Conservative' Immigration Plan

By Ron Fournier | National Journal

For all the talk about President Obama’s liberalism, his immigration agenda is the last thing you might expect: conservative.

His enemies might deny it. His staff might not recognize it. But the argument Obama presented Tuesday for a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants is rooted in economic and social conservatism.

First, in a Las Vegas address that included the words “economy” or “economic” 10 times, Obama argued that immigration fuels corporate innovation. “It keeps our workforce young. It keeps our country on the cutting edge,” he said. “And it’s helped build the greatest economic engine the world has ever known.”

Immigrants founded one-quarter of high-tech start-ups in the United States, Obama said, and one-fourth of all U.S. small-business owners are immigrants. And yet the nation’s immigration laws make it difficult for foreign students who study in the United States to remain here after college.

“We’re giving them all the skills they need to [launch a business], but then we’re going to turn around and tell them to start that business and create those jobs in China or India or Mexico or someplace else?” Obama said. “That’s not how you grow new industries in America. That’s how you give new industries to our competitors. That’s why we need comprehensive immigration reform.”

National Journal