News / USA

Obama Renews Push for US Immigration Reform

Protesters calling for comprehensive immigration reform gather on the Washington Mall, Oct. 8, 2013.
Protesters calling for comprehensive immigration reform gather on the Washington Mall, Oct. 8, 2013.
Michael Bowman
Thursday, President Barack Obama urged a renewed bipartisan commitment to confront the nation’s challenges, and signaled he will press Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform.

Earlier this year, the Senate approved an overhaul of America’s often-criticized immigration system. The bill would strengthen U.S. border security and provide a long and arduous path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants.

But the initiative has languished in the Republican-led House of Representatives, where many members view legalization of the undocumented as amnesty for law-breakers.

Thursday, Obama said immigration reform remains a priority.

“We should finish the job of fixing our broken immigration system," he said. "The majority of Americans think this is the right thing to do. And it is sitting there waiting for the House to pass it.”

Despite Washington’s recent focus on fiscal matters, proponents of immigration reform have kept up efforts to rally public opinion and pressure lawmakers. Conventional wisdom holds that Congress must act this year if reform is to succeed, since lawmakers will shy from casting politically-charged votes before next year’s midterm elections.

Reform advocate Frank Sharry says time is of the essence. He said, “I think it is going to be critical that the House of Representatives begins to address this issue, has votes.  I think it is critical that we see action this year."

Sharry adds that plenty of time remains on the House calendar between now and December, if Republican leaders choose to bring legislation forward.

Opponents of the Senate bill say it faces stiff opposition in the House of Representatives. The head of the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, Mark Krikorian, says House lawmakers may consider something that falls short of full citizenship for the undocumented.

“They [House Republicans] would simply give those 11-million illegal immigrants work visas," he said." A work visa would make you legal, but you would not have any option to become a citizen.”

Immigration reform advocates, including Obama, reject any proposal that does not contain a path to citizenship.  Even so, on Thursday Obama said an eventual House bill need not be identical to the Senate version.

“If the House has ideas on how to improve the Senate bill, let us hear them," he said. "Let us start the negotiations.”

After the president spoke, House Democrats issued a statement echoing his call for action.
But Mark Krikorian says the Republican-led House and Democratic-led Senate have different visions for immigration reform, and he doubts they can be reconciled.

“The House is going to pass some targeted bills, and they are not going to be able to agree with the Senate on a common bill that they would send to the White House, and so nothing is going to end up on the president’s desk,” he said.

If immigration reform fails this year, Krikorian says the outcome of next year’s congressional elections will determine the initiative’s chances in 2015.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More