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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora