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

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid