President calls for immigration reform, wage increase in State of the Union address

President Barack Obama called for bipartisan immigration reform in his fifth State of the Union address to Congress last night.

“When people come here to fulfill their dreams, to study, invent, contribute to our culture, they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everybody,” Obama said.

CSUN is no stranger to immigration issues. According to a previous Sundial article, CSUN had as many as 300 undocumented students when the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act was passed in 2011. The legislation allowed for students brought in to the United States under the age of 16 without the proper immigration documents to be eligible to receive financial aid benefits.

Obama intends to use an executive action to raise minimum wage to $10.10 for federal contractors. Obama has also asked Congress to pass legislation to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour. He noted that some businesses have already taken it upon themselves to raise wages in order to promote economic growth and to ease financial stress of employees. The President urged Congress to follow suit.

“This will help families,” he said. “It will give businesses customers with more money to spend.”

The President also highlighted what he believes to be his biggest accomplishments of 2013, including ending the war in Iraq and passing the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.

“Because of this law, no American — none, zero — can ever again be dropped or denied coverage for a pre-existing condition like asthma or back pain or cancer,” Obama said.

The President also expressed support for equal pay for women, gay marriage and increased gun control. He called on, not only Congress, but the citizens to act on these issues, referring to it as a citizen duty.

“Citizenship means standing up for the lives that gun violence steals from us each day,” he said.

Obama called for 2014 to be a year of action and mentioned that in order to drive this year forward, he planned to take executive action if and when necessary.

“Wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do,” Obama said. “America does not stand still and neither will I.”

The Republican response to the President’s State of the Union address was delivered by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.

“Tonight the President made more promises that sound good, but won’t solve the problems actually facing Americans,” Rodgers said. “We want you to have a better life. The president wants that, too. But we part ways when it comes to how to make that happen.”

Rodgers said the Republicans have a plan to put Americans back to work that does not include government spending, bailouts or red tape.

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, January 28, 2014. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)
President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, January 28, 2014. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)