News / USA

Obama: 'Begin' Immigration Reform This Year

President Barack Obama says he wants the U.S. Congress to make progress this year on reforming the U.S. immigration system.  Mr. Obama spoke about the issue during an event marking Cinco de Mayo,  the annual observance in the U.S., Mexico and other parts of the world of Mexican cultural heritage and pride:

After his success in getting the Congress to approve major health care reform legislation,  the president has been working on other key domestic priorities, notably the difficult objective of reforming U.S. immigration laws.

Whether immigration reform has any chance of passing in the current divisive atmosphere on Capitol Hill remains to be seen, as Democrats assess what legislation they can expect to reasonably move in this mid-term congressional election year.

In recent remarks to reporters, the president called immigration a difficult issue and a matter of political will, saying he and majority Democrats would need help from Republicans to pass a bill.

At the Cinco de Mayo observance at the White House, he sought to re-clarify his position on prospects for reform, saying he wants progress this year.

"I want to begin work this year, and I want Democrats and Republicans to work with me," said President Obama.

With about six months to go before the 2010 mid-term elections, it's clear any effort to get immigration reform passed will have to originate in the U.S. Senate.

Last week, Democrats there unveiled what they call a conceptual proposal for reform, including such things as tougher border controls, and a path to citizenship for the approximately 12 million illegal immigrants in the country.

Calling the immigration system badly broken, with dysfunctional outcomes for millions of people and the U.S. economy, New York  Senator Charles Schumer joined other Democratic leaders in urging Republicans to get on board.

"We are asking our Republican colleagues to come join with us in this difficult work.  The time for talking points is over," said Schumer.  "We know we cannot pass comprehensive reform unless it is bipartisan."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said any hope for progress will require the president to exert maximum political leadership.

"As I said when President Bush was president, and I say when President Obama is president, if there is going to be any movement in this regard, it will require presidential leadership, as well as an appetite, as well as a willingness to move forward in the Congress," said Pelosi.

Now front and center in the immigratioon debate is the controversial law in Arizona requiring non-citizens to carry documents proving their legal status, and authorizing police to question individuals suspected of lacking documentation.

Repeating his criticism of the Arizona law, the president said the answer on immigration is not to undermine fundamental principles that define America:

"We can't start singling out people because of who they look like or how they talk or how they dress," said Mr. Obama.  "We can't turn law-biding American citizens and law-biding  immigrants into subjects of suspicion and abuse.  We can't divide the American people that way, that's not the answer, that's not who we are as the United States of America."

Before the president spoke, divisions over the Arizona law were heard again in Congress.   In the House of Representatives, California Democrat Joe Baca, and Texas Republican Lamar Smith offered these opposing views.

Baca:  This unconstitutional law [in Arizona] is inspired by racism [and] it will lead to racial profiling of Hispanics and people of color.

Smith:  Maybe from a New York City skyscraper it's hard to see the border violence, the human smuggling, the drug trafficking, the lost jobs and the crowded schools, much of it caused by those who break our immigration laws."

As President Obama continues his outreach to Republicans whose support might help move the process ahead, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs had this assessment of chances for gaining significant Republican support:

"I don't know the degree to which there are at least in the Senate there are a tremendous number of right now, Republican sponsors for that legislation," said Gibbs.

In the audience for President Obama's remarks were Hispanic members of Congress and the president's cabinet, along with Mexico's Ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhan,  and Mexico's Secretary of the Interior.

President Obama looked ahead to the upcoming state visit of Mexico's president Felipe Calderon and his wife, scheduled to be at the White House in two weeks.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid