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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid