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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora