“We know what needs to be done,” said President Obama in his State of the Union address Tuesday. “As we speak, bipartisan groups in both chambers are working diligently to draft a bill, and I applaud their efforts. Now let’s get this done. Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away.”
Although immigration was not the key issue of the President’s address, he did find time to implore Congress to act quickly on drafting a reform bill, as well as to lay out several positions on important related issues. The President pledged his commitment to strengthening security at the nation’s southern border, saying that his administration’s polices have been responsible for lowering illegal crossings to the lowest level seen in 40 years. He also stated, however, that it is imperative that the United States create a legal mechanism through which prospective immigrants can gain citizenship. In particular, he pledged support for changing our current immigration laws to make it easier for foreign born college graduates in science, technology, math and engineering fields as well as entrepreneurs to legally live and work here. This was the first time that Obama has offered up specific prescriptions for immigration reform in his annual State of the Union address.
“Our economy is stronger when we harness the talents and ingenuity of striving, hopeful immigrants,” Obama said. “Right now, leaders from the business, labor, law enforcement and faith communities all agree that the time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
In response to Obama’s address, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, issued a statement praising the President’s efforts to promote bipartisan cooperation but also expressing hesitation about a reform plan that as yet offers few specifics. “We need clarity about what reform will mean for us, who will be included, and who might be left out,” said NDLON. “We want a reform that relieves the crisis in Arizona. We want a reform that includes day laborers and domestic workers alongside engineers and students. We want a reform that advances workplace rights instead of undermining them.”
In particular, NDLON urged the President to establish an official moratorium on deportations as the first step to meaningful immigration reform. They contend that by first taking these deportations off the table, it removes a contentious issue from the debate, thus furthering the larger conversation on immigrant rights.