In what has been a historic week for immigrants in this country, President Obama reiterated his support Tuesday for comprehensive immigration reform. In a speech in Las Vegas, Obama announced his plan to overhaul an immigration system he called “out of date and badly broken.”
Obama’s speech focused on three pillars of immigration reform that he hopes to address in his second term. First, the United States needs to better enforce its immigration laws. Second, there must be a pathway to citizenship created for undocumented individuals already in this country. And third, we must reform our current legal immigration system.
Obama’s speech came just one day after a bipartisan Senate group led by Republican Ariz. Sen. John McCain announced their own proposal for comprehensive immigration reform. The growing across-the-aisle support for new immigration legislation in this country is a good sign to those advocating for immigrant rights.
Enthusiastic reactions of support are already pouring in after Obama’s announcement Tuesday.
Avondale, Ariz. Mayor and President of the National League of Cities Marie Lopez Rogers, who was in attendance at Obama’s speech, issued a statement praising the President’s words. “City leaders throughout the U.S. witness the tragedies brought every day by a fragmented, divisive system: families torn apart, forced to live underground and unable to receive the basic care and services they need,” said Lopez Rogers. “The current policies are broken and together we must find a way to change our system in a fair, reasonable and inclusive manner.”
Anne Johnson, Director of Campus Progress, a youth political organization, issued her own statement, emphasizing the importance of immigration reform for our nation’s young people. “Young Americans understand how critical it is that we fix our immigration system with smart reform that will grow our economy,” said Johnson. “Bringing justice to millions of DREAMers and their families is long overdue, and the positive proposals from the President and the bipartisan group of senators is evidence that the time for action is finally here. We expect strong leadership from them and look forward to working together to find a lasting solution.”
New York City Mayor and Co-Chair of the bipartisan Partnership for a New American Economy expressed his hope that immigration reform will be a catalyst for U.S. economic recovery. “Today’s immigration speech by President Obama, coming on the heels of yesterday's announcement of bipartisan agreement on reform principles by the Senate ‘Gang of Eight,’ shows that there is broad support to modernize our immigration system in a way that helps grow our economy and attract the world’s most talented and hardest-working,” said Bloomberg.
Although there exists a great deal of support for immigration reform legislation in this country, precisely what form this legislation will take is still unclear. Obama himself admitted the contentiousness of the issue and acknowledged that he expects a fierce fight over it. With specific details of Obama’s plan still scarce, concerned parties will have to wait to see how his plan differs from that already proposed by the Senate “Gang of Eight.”