Obama Kicks Immigration Reform Push Into High Gear With Personal Appeals
With House Republicans holding the fate of immigration reform, for now, in their hands, President Barack Obama is turning to Latinos for help.
Obama is scheduled do interviews from the White House Tuesday with Spanish language television stations from Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles and New York. The White House says the president will argue that immigration reform is in line with the nation’s values and in the country’s economic interests.
Obama’s personal appeals come amid deep uncertainty over the future of the immigration overhaul that is a centerpiece of the president’s second term agenda.
The Senate has passed a sweeping bill but GOP leaders in the House say that legislation is flawed. House Speaker John Boehner says many of his members want to deal with immigration but in a methodical, step-by-step fashion.
But for many opponents of comprehensive immigration reform, the most vexing issue is what to do about those who are already in the U.S. illegally.
The Senate bill offers a 13-year path for most, contingent on paying fines, learning English and meeting other qualifications. People brought to the United States as youths and agriculture workers would have a faster route.
House Democrats met earlier this month with the Senate Democratic authors of the bill and emerged to declare that nothing short of that would suffice.
“America has stood for citizenship,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said. “We have a Statue of Liberty here. It never has said you come here and you’ll be second class. We will not stand for it. It will not happen.”
Obama also has said he would not sign a bill without a path to citizenship.
Several House Republicans have said that such demands may mean Democrats end up with no bill at all. Many of the most conservative members of Congress say providing undocumented immigrants a path to legal status is tantamount to rewarding law breakers, and will encourage more illegal immigration.
Proponents of a path to legal status say that it is unrealistic to expect the country to track down and deport the millions of undocumented immigrants already here, and that it is in the United States’ best interest to bring them out of the shadows.