News / USA

    Obama Challenges Republicans on Immigration Reform

    President Barack Obama speaks about immigration reform at the Chamizal National Memorial Park in El Paso, Texas, May 10, 2011
    President Barack Obama speaks about immigration reform at the Chamizal National Memorial Park in El Paso, Texas, May 10, 2011

    President Barack Obama used the backdrop of the U.S-Mexico border on Tuesday for a major speech amplifying his calls for bipartisan reform of U.S. immigration laws.  

    Facing continuing opposition from congressional Republicans on how best to achieve comprehensive reform, Mr. Obama is trying to elevate the debate about finding a solution to what most agree is a broken immigration system.

    On Tuesday, he traveled to El Paso, Texas, a major crossing point on the more than 3,100 -kilometer border with Mexico.  As in other southwest states, illegal immigration is a hot topic in Texas where the  percentage of the population  that is Hispanic increased by 43 percent over the past decade.

    In remarks after touring a cargo facility at the Bridge of the Americas, Mr. Obama listed steps he has taken to strengthen border security and cut down on illegal crossings, and said his administration has answered concerns voiced by opposition Republicans.

    "We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement," said President Obama. "All the stuff they asked for, we have done."

    Watch a related report by Kent Klein:



    Briefing reporters this week, senior administration officials detailed those steps, which include more than doubling the number of border patrol agents to 20,700,  and a plan to extend deployment of National Guard troops.

    The administration has increased cooperation with Mexico in fighting drug cartel violence, intensified screening of rail and vehicle traffic, and nearly completed construction of a 1200 kilometer border fence.  Officials also point to increased illegal drug and weapons seizures, and a 36 percent drop in illegal immigration attempts.

    In El Paso, Mr. Obama repeated his call for Republicans to join him in finding common ground to enable a bipartisan solution to immigration reform.

    "So, the question is whether those in Congress who previously walked away in the name of enforcement are now ready to come back to the table and finish the work that we have started," said Obama. "We have got to put the politics aside, and if we do, I am confident we can find common ground."

    Mr. Obama did not set out any timeline for crafting immigration legislation.  He offered broad policy brush strokes, including requiring illegal immigrants to pay a fine, learn English, undergo background checks and wait in line for legalization, and holding businesses accountable for exploiting undocumented workers.

    The president still faces opposition from key congressional Republicans who assert that any comprehensive immigration bill should wait until the border is secure.

    Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain, both from the southwestern state of Arizona, have proposed a 10 point plan they assert would achieve more control of the border.  Among other things, it proposes to deploy at least 6,000 National guard troops and 5,000 additional border patrol agents.

    Kyl spoke with reporters on Capitol Hill earlier in the day.

    "I think almost everybody recognizes that until the border is secured, any hope of additional legislation dealing with the immigration problem is not likely to succeed in the Congress," said Senator Kyl.

    In his remarks Tuesday, Mr. Obama also reiterated his goal of achieving passage of the DREAM Act.  That legislation, which would allow undocumented youths to obtain legal residence status under specific conditions, was blocked in Congress.

    President Obama's Texas remarks were the latest piece of what the White House intends to be an intensifying campaign on immigration reform, ahead of the 2012 presidential election.

    It provided an opportunity for Mr. Obama to speak about the politically and economically significant immigration issue where it is of most intense concern, and appeal to Hispanic voters.

    In the 2008 presidential election, Mr. Obama won the national Hispanic vote with 67 percent.  He lost Texas, a Republican stronghold, to Senator John McCain by a 10 percent margin.  

    The president's day in Texas also included appearances at two Democratic Party fundraising events in Austin.  Later this week, Mr. Obama continues his outreach to the nation's Hispanics when he appears at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in the nation's capital.

    You May Like

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    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.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora