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  • The President: Well, hello, San Francisco!

  • [applause]

  • It is great to be back in California.

  • It is great to be with all of you.

  • I love San Francisco.

  • [applause]

  • You got great food.

  • You got great people, beautiful scenery --

  • no more super villains because Batkid cleaned up the streets.

  • [applause]

  • Love Batkid.

  • [laughter]

  • I want to start by thanking Geetha for the wonderful

  • introduction and the great work that she's doing.

  • Give her a big round of applause.

  • [applause]

  • I want to thank your Mayor, Ed Lee.

  • [applause]

  • Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom.

  • [applause]

  • I want to recognize some wonderful members of Congress

  • who are fighting every day for the people of California --

  • Mike Honda, Eric Swalwell, Judy Chu.

  • They are all doing great work every single day.

  • [applause]

  • We have a special guest, Janet Napolitano,

  • who is now overseeing the entire UC system

  • and going to be doing a great job.

  • [applause]

  • We miss her back in Washington,

  • but she is going to be outstanding leading

  • the University of California.

  • Now, before I begin, I want to say a few words

  • about the news from the weekend.

  • I'm here to talk about immigration reform,

  • but I'm also here in my capacity as Commander-in-Chief,

  • and this weekend, together with our allies and our partners,

  • the United States reached an agreement with Iran --

  • [applause]

  • -- on a first step towards resolving our concerns

  • over its nuclear program.

  • Now, some of you may recall that when I first ran for President,

  • I said it was time for a new era of American leadership

  • in the world -- one that turned the page on a decade of war,

  • and began a new era of our engagement with the world.

  • And as President and as Commander-in-Chief,

  • I've done what I said.

  • We ended the war in Iraq; we brought our troops home.

  • Osama bin Laden met justice;

  • the war in Afghanistan will end next year.

  • And as the strongest, most powerful nation

  • on the face of the Earth,

  • we've engaged in clear-eyed and principled diplomacy --

  • even with our adversaries --

  • in order to begin to destroy Syria's chemical weapons

  • and to place the first real constraints in a decade

  • on Iran's nuclear program.

  • Because I firmly believe in what President Kennedy once said:

  • He said, "Let us never negotiate out of fear,

  • but let us never fear to negotiate."

  • I believe that.

  • And this diplomacy, backed by the unprecedented sanctions

  • we brought on Iran, has brought us the progress

  • that was achieved this weekend.

  • For the first time in a decade, we've halted the progress

  • on Iran's nuclear program.

  • Key parts of the program will be rolled back.

  • [applause]

  • International inspectors will have unprecedented access

  • to Iran's nuclear-related facilities.

  • So this will help Iran from building a nuclear weapon.

  • And over the coming months, we're going to continue our

  • diplomacy, with the goal of achieving a comprehensive

  • solution that deals with the threat of Iran's nuclear program

  • once and for all.

  • And if Iran seizes this opportunity and chooses

  • to join the global community, then we can begin to chip away

  • at the mistrust that's existed for many,

  • many years between our two nations.

  • None of that is going to be easy.

  • Huge challenges remain.

  • But we cannot close the door on diplomacy.

  • And we cannot rule out peaceful solutions

  • to the world's problems.

  • We cannot commit ourselves to an endless cycle of conflict.

  • And tough talk and bluster may be the easy thing to do

  • politically, but it's not the right thing for our security.

  • It is not the right thing for our security.

  • [applause]

  • Now, this progress, and the potential it offers,

  • reminds us of what is possible when the United States

  • has the courage to lead -- not just with the force of arms,

  • but with the strength of our diplomacy

  • and our commitment to peace.

  • That's what keeps us strong.

  • That's what makes us a beacon to the world.

  • That's how I'll continue to lead so long as I'm President

  • of the United States.

  • And that spirit --

  • not just what we can criticize or tear down or be against,

  • but what we can build together --

  • that's what brings me here today.

  • Because it's long past time

  • to fix our broken immigration system.

  • [applause]

  • We need to make sure Washington finishes

  • what so many Americans just like you started.

  • We've got to finish the job.

  • And it's fitting that we're here in Chinatown,

  • just a few miles away from Angel Island.

  • In the early 1900s, about 300,000 people --

  • maybe some of your ancestors --

  • passed through on their way to a new life in America.

  • And for many, it represented

  • the end of a long and arduous journey --

  • they'd finally arrived in a place where they believed

  • anything was possible.

  • And for some, it also represented the beginning

  • of a new struggle against prejudice in a country

  • that didn't always treat its immigrants fairly or afford them

  • the same rights as everybody else.

  • Obviously, Asians faced this, but so did the Irish;

  • so did Italians; so did Jews; and many groups still do today.

  • That didn't stop those brave men and women from coming.

  • They were drawn by a belief in the power of opportunity;

  • in a belief that says, maybe I never had a chance

  • at a good education, but this is a place

  • where my daughter can go to college.

  • Maybe I started out washing dishes,

  • but this is a place where my son can become

  • mayor of San Francisco.

  • [applause]

  • Maybe I have to make sacrifices today,

  • but those sacrifices are worth it if it means

  • a better life for my family.

  • And that's a family story that will be shared by millions

  • of Americans around the table on Thursday.

  • It's the story that drew

  • my gre at-great-great-great-grandfather

  • from a small village in Ireland,

  • and drew my father from a small village in Kenya.

  • It's the story that drew so many of your ancestors here --

  • that America is a place where you can make it if you try.

  • And here's something interesting: Today,

  • more than one in four residents born outside the United States

  • came here from Asian countries --

  • many through our family immigration system.

  • They're doctors and business owners, laborers, refugees.

  • This rec center's namesake, Betty Ong, was a hero on 9/11.

  • [applause]

  • But she was also the daughter of immigrants who grew up

  • not far from here.

  • And we're honored to have her family with us here today.

  • [applause]

  • But too often when we talk about immigration,

  • the debate focuses on our southern border.

  • The fact is we're blessed with immigrants

  • from all over the world who've put down roots

  • in every corner of this country.

  • Here in San Francisco, 35 percent of business owners

  • are immigrants --

  • and your economy is among the fastest growing in the country.

  • That's not an accident.

  • That's the impact that our talented,

  • hardworking immigrants can have.

  • That's the difference they can make.

  • They're hungry and they're striving and they're working

  • hard and they're creating things that weren't there before.

  • And that's why it is long past time to reform an immigration

  • system that right now doesn't serve America

  • as well as it should.

  • We could be doing so much more to unleash our potential

  • if we just fix this aspect of our system.

  • And I know out here in California that you watch

  • the news and you share the country's not very sunny view

  • of Washington these days.

  • For the last few months,

  • you've seen a lot of headlines about

  • gridlock and partisan bickering, and too often one faction

  • of one party in one house of Congress has chosen courses

  • of action that ended up harming our businesses, or our economy,

  • or our workers.

  • Or they want to refight old political battles

  • rather than create jobs and grow the economy

  • and strengthen the middle class,

  • or take 40 more votes to undermine or repeal

  • the Affordable Care Act --

  • [laughter]

  • -- instead of passing a single serious jobs bill,

  • despite the fact that Americans

  • want us to focus on jobs and business and growth.

  • And, by the way, thousands of Californians are signing up

  • every day for new health care plans all across this state.

  • [applause]

  • So even as we're getting this darn website up to speed --

  • [laughter]

  • -- and it's getting better --

  • states like California are proving the law works.

  • People want the financial security of health insurance.

  • Audience Member: Thanks to you!

  • The President: And even if you're already insured,

  • reach out to a friend or neighbor who's not

  • and help them get covered.

  • But when it comes to immigration reform,

  • we have to have the confidence to believe we can get this done.

  • And we should get it done.

  • And, by the way, most Americans agree.

  • The only thing standing in our way right now is the

  • unwillingness of certain Republicans in Congress to catch

  • up with the rest of the country.

  • I met the other day with the CEOs

  • of some of America's biggest companies.

  • And I'm positive not all of them voted for me.

  • [laughter]

  • I'm pretty sure.

  • [laughter]

  • Maybe some of them, but definitely not all of them.

  • But the thing they wanted to talk about,

  • their top priority was the fact that we invite the brightest

  • minds from around the world to study here --

  • many of them enrolled in the University of California

  • system -- and then we don't invite them to stay.

  • We end up sending them home to create new jobs and start new

  • businesses someplace else.

  • So we're training our own competition,

  • rather than invite those incredibly talented young

  • people, like Geetha, to stay here and start businesses

  • and create jobs here.

  • I hear from folks who've been separated from their families

  • for years because of green card backlogs who desperately want

  • their loved ones to be able to join them here in America.

  • I hear from young DREAMers who are Americans through

  • and through in every way but on paper,

  • and they just want a chance to study and serve and contribute

  • to the nation that they love.

  • [applause]

  • I talk to business owners who play by the rules,

  • but get frustrated because they end up being undercut by those

  • who exploit workers in a shadow economy -- aren't getting paid

  • overtime, aren't required to meet the same obligations.

  • And so those companies end up losing out on business.

  • Right now, I'm seeing brave advocates who have been fasting

  • for two weeks in the shadow of the Capitol,

  • sacrificing themselves in an effort to get Congress to act.

  • And I want to say to Eliseo Medina, my friend from SEIU,

  • and the other fasters who are there as we speak,

  • I want them to know we hear you.

  • We're