It is now becoming clear that comprehensive reform will be one of the main legacies of the Obama presidency. The President reiterated to House Democrats on Thursday that he is relying on their support for comprehensive immigration reform, even if they fear the political ramifications. Obama was tacitly referring to the fact that the legislation might be a tough sell among certain demographics and regions of the United States. The President emphasized the need to keep attracting talent from all over the world.
In his speech in Las Vegas, he called for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, more border security and better interior enforcement. A bipartisan group in the Senate dubbed the "gang of eight" released a similar framework for reform, but tied green cards to yet-to-be-determined border metrics to disallow immigrants granted provisional status from becoming legal permanent residents until those triggers were met. Obama applauded the work being done in Congress on immigration, even though this bipartisan group (especially the Republican Senators) might only support a middle ground that would allow undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S., but not to become citizens.
Only 10 percent of American voters support such a plan, while 56 percent believe the undocumented should be allowed to eventually become citizens, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll. Obama has reiterated repeatedly, both in public and in private meetings with advocates and members of Congress, that he will not accept a bill without a pathway to citizenship.
It seems that momentum is finally gathering for the introduction of comprehensive immigration reform. Most importantly, the support given by a majority of American people to immigration legitimizes the efforts of the White House and Congress to pass this legislation.
In his immigration speech, Obama warned Congress:
do not let immigration reform get bogged down in endless debate
And if it does not happen in a “timely” fashion, he will send his own bill up to Capitol Hill. Now that the president has delivered his 2013 State of the Union address, we now know his broad outline for immigration reform. So watch this space for more details.
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