News / USA

Obama Calls For Continued Immigration Reform Push

President Barack Obama speaks at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, May 12, 2011
President Barack Obama speaks at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, May 12, 2011

U.S. President Barack Obama says he will continue to push for comprehensive immigration reform.

In an address to the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast Thursday, President Obama said reforming the nation's immigration system is not just an economic or security imperative, but a "moral imperative."

The president said immigration is a subject that can feed people's "fears of change," but he called on Americans to show empathy and not forget that the nation's population is rooted in immigrants. He urged Hispanic community leaders to keep building the movement for change.

On Tuesday, President Obama challenged lawmakers to overhaul the immigration system, calling it "broken" and saying better laws would lessen the number of people illegally attempting to work in the U.S.

Speaking in the city of El Paso, Texas, on the border with Mexico, Obama proposed giving a path to citizenship to the nation's estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, and making it easier for students from other countries to work and start businesses in the United States.

Observers say it is unlikely President Obama will get a comprehensive immigration bill passed in Congress.  Republicans control the House of Representatives, and the party is adamantly opposed to providing legal residency for undocumented immigrants, saying it amounts to an amnesty.  

The president has faced intense criticism from the Hispanic community for failing to promote the immigration issue during his first two years in office and for the deportation of nearly 400,000 illegal immigrants last year. In his speech in El Paso, the president acknowledged deportations are a source of controversy, but said enforcement efforts were focused on "violent offenders" and convicted criminals.

Hispanics, a rapidly growing segment of the U.S. population, gave crucial support to Obama's 2008 election.  

In his speech Tuesday, Obama also defended his administration's efforts to secure the borders along the southwestern United States, saying they have resulted in more guns, currency and drugs being seized along the border, and fewer people trying to cross illegally.

The president blamed Republican lawmakers for delaying reform by demanding border security measures be completed first, and said he expected Republicans to continue blocking reform efforts despite the fact that, "all the stuff they have asked for, we have done."

But many Republican lawmakers are insisting that more be done to improve border security first. Many states have passed their own laws on the issue.  

Last year, the border state of Arizona passed a measure that would have allowed police officers to check the immigration status of anyone suspected of being in the U.S. illegally. Officials there say the law is needed to crack down on violent drug trafficking they say is spreading over the border from Mexico.

The Obama administration filed a federal lawsuit against Arizona's law, saying border security is a federal issue. A federal judge blocked key parts of the law in a ruling last year, but Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has vowed to take the case directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid