From NBC's Mark Murray and Ali Weinberg
As expected, President Obama today addressed the controversial anti-immigrant legislation in Arizona, calling it irresponsible and misguided, and arguing that it undermines the "basic notions of fairness" in this country.
At an naturalization ceremony for active-duty members of the military, Obama stated his desire for comprehensive immigration reform and pointed out that 11 current Senate Republicans voted to for reform four years ago.
"If we fail to act responsibly at the federal level," he said, "it will only open the doors to irresponsibility by others" -- transitioning to the Arizona bill that, among other things, would require local law enforcement to force anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant to produce proof of legal status.
He contended that the legislative efforts in Arizona "threatened to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe."
Obama added that he instructed his White House staff to monitor the situation in Arizona, examining its civil-rights implications. "But if we continue to fail to act at a federal level, we will continue to see misguided efforts opening up around the country."
The president concluded, "As a nation, as a people, we can choose a different future -- a future that keeps faith with our history, with our heritage, and with the hope that America has always inspired in the hearts of people all over the world."