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

    Video Somali, AU Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    Somalia’s Western backers frustrated over country’s slow progress in establishing its armed forces to bring security after 25 years of chaos

    Israel Makes Push for Gaza Strip Recovery

    After years of economic blockade and attempts to disable Hamas, Israeli leaders eventually realized that Hamas’ downfall could lead to chaos or the rise of a more radical Jihadist group

    Slump in Chinese Tourists Hitting Hong Kong Retail

    Mainland Chinese account for up to three-quarters of visitors to Hong Kong, but that number is falling, and shopping centers are struggling to 'shift gears' and maintain sales

    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.
    Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shababi
    X
    Henry Ridgwell
    April 28, 2016 4:20 PM
    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Town Receives Refugees but Lacks Resources

    A wave of refugees is pouring into the Kurdish town of Afrin in northern Syria as a result of fighting between rebel forces and Islamic State militants. VOA’s Amina Misto went to the town and reports local authorities are finding it difficult to cope with this influx of internally displaced people. Bronwyn Benito narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Build Human Tissue on Animal Matrix

    The question has always been, if a gecko can grow back its tail, why can't we regenerate our lost body parts? Well, maybe we can, someday. Scientists are moving towards the ability to rebuild fully functioning organs, and have made significant progress replacing muscles and other tissue.
    Video

    Video Containing Chernobyl Radiation Continues 30 Years After Explosion

    April 26 marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Hundreds were killed following the explosion and it's estimated that thousands more have died from cancers caused by the radiation. Henry Ridgwell traveled to Chernobyl and reports for VOA on the continuing efforts to decommission the site -- and on the fledgling plans for a new future in the vast exclusion zone.
    Video

    Video Frustration Builds Among Refugees Trapped at Macedonian Border

    On the Greek border with Macedonia, 12,000 refugees continue to wait. Since the route to the rest of Europe was closed last month, the makeshift camp at Idomeni has seen protests and tear gas. But while those here wait, their frustration grows — as do reports of people attempting to find new ways of continuing their journey. John Owens reports from Idomeni.
    Video

    Video Researchers: Bees Help Kenyan Farmers Fend Off Elephants

    Elephant crop-raiding continues to be a major source of human-wildlife conflict in Kenya, so one elephant researcher is helping to alleviate the problem near Tsavo East National Park with beehive fences, which use elephants’ natural aversion to bees to deter them from farms. VOA’s Jill Craig visited the area ahead of this month's Giants Club Summit, which will bring together dignitaries at Mount Kenya to find solutions to combat poaching, the No. 1 threat to elephants.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora