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

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora