Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not American citizens. Some are the children of undocumented workers, who had nothing to do with the actions of their parents. They grew up as Americans and pledge allegiance to our flag, and yet live every day with the threat of deportation. Others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities. But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us. It makes no sense.
He also called on Congress to address immigration emphasizing border enforcement.
Now, I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration. I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows. I know that debate will be difficult and take time. But tonight, let's agree to make that effort. And let's stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation.
Obama gave immigration a bigger reference than the 37 words on immigration in last year's State of the Union speech.
But instead of just talking, Obama could do something. He could sign an executive order to halt the deportations of undocumented students or for that matter of all immigrants until Congress addresses immigration reform.
Now is not the time to send young people back to countries like Mexico. I have been traveling in Mexico since my childhood but after a recent two-week trip realized that there is a level of insecurity and corruption that would make it dangerous for any young person to be sent back home.
In Guadalajara this month, two teenage girls were shot and killed, innocent victims caught in a shooting crossfire. Police suspect it was drug-related as the suspects aimed at two adult men. This shooting rocked Mexico's second largest city as they aren't used to drive-bys.
In Mexico, the drug war also has young victims who are recruited to work for the narcos because they have no other economic options.
In December, the news that a 14-year-old boy worked as a cartel hitman shocked Mexico. He allegedly admitted to killing four people by beheading. He told reporters that he started killing at the age of 11 and earned $200 a week.
The death toll from the drug war in Mexico topped 15,000 in 2010 and is almost 35,000 since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006.
Those rates exceed combat-related deaths in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Recent news of the slaying of a women's right activist, Susana Chavez, in the border city of Juarez, and the disappearance of the police officer, Erika Gandara, in a border village near El Paso create additional concern.
Gandara was the only officer left of eight. Another was killed and all the others resigned. Now she is missing perhaps kidnapped by drug lords.
In light of these facts, it seems wrong to deport anybody back to Mexico today as the violence there has escalated to the levels seen in some war-torn countries.
In his speech, President Obama can vaguely reference the DREAM Act that would give undocumented youth a pathway to legalization.
Or he could actually do something by temporarily halting deportations until Congress finally acts on immigration issues.