Tuesday, July 23, 2024

White House takes on Immigration Reform despite Challenges

Despite the political hurdles that the White House is facing as it attempts to push through its health care reform agenda, President Obama has not abandoned his efforts to overhaul the country’s immigration system as well.  This week, the president will meet with his Domestic Policy Task Force and Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Charles Schumer (D-NY), both of whom – in a rare display of bipartisanship –  have been working together to craft an immigration bill.

According to sources familiar with the meeting, the White House may push for a blueprint from Graham and Schumer that can later be amended as needed.

The bill would have certain basic tenets including a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal residents in the U.S.  This citizenship, however, would not be granted lightly; the bill would require undocumented immigrants to register as such and pay taxes and fees.  The bill would also include improvements to border security.

A White House spokesperson told reporters that the President’s commitment to immigration reform was “unwavering”.  To be sure, President Obama is under continued pressure to comply with a promise he made during the election to tackle the immigration issue during his first term.  With an immigration rally in Washington scheduled for March 21, the spotlight may shine stronger on a need for legislative action that the increasingly empowered Hispanic electorate considers imperative.

Republicans are loathe to lend their support to Democratic efforts after the Administration and Democrats in Congress have made it clear that they will pursue passage of the health care bill with or without Republican support.  Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said in an interview, “The things you hear from the administration won’t be well received.”

Democrats, on the other hand, are actively seeking the support of Republicans on the immigration issue, but such support has not been forthcoming.  “We’re very hopeful we can get a bill done. We have all the pieces in place. We just need a second Republican,” Schumer said in a statement.