Sunday, June 23, 2024

Cinco de Mayo Brings Renewed Promise to Tackle Immigration Reform

Speaking yesterday at a White House reception to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, President Obama said that he wants “to begin work this year” on comprehensive immigration reform, cautioning, however, that the effort would not be easy.

Referencing the concerns he raised over racial profiling as a result of the state of Arizona’s recently passed anti-immigration law, Obama told the mainly Hispanic audience, “America’s diversity is America’s strength.”

Previously, the president called the Arizona law “misguided.”

Obama continued “We can’t start singling out people because of who they look like. That’s why we have to close the door on this kind of misconceived action by meeting our obligations here in Washington.”

Meanwhile, reports say that House Democrats are laying the groundwork to move an immigration bill on their side should the Senate be able to pass a proposal this year.

A number of conversations are underway amongst the various committee and subcommittee chairs.  Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), chairman of the Homeland Security subcommittee on border security, reported that he approached the full Homeland Security Committee chairman, Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), about having a seat at the table in the immigration debate.

Cuellar also had a conversation with Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee with jurisdiction on immigration reform.

According to a Democratic aide, Lofgren has been talking about immigration with members.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid joined New York Senator Chuck Schumer and New Jersey’s Robert Menendez to unveil an outline for an immigration reform bill.  The proposal includes benchmarks for border security as well as a plan to provide legalization to undocumented workers currently in the US.

Although many political analysts say that immigration reform is too controversial to pass because elections are less than six months away—some advocates including Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill), are more optimistic than they have been in years.

As previously reported in La Plaza (link it), Gutierrez was arrested last Saturday for protesting against the Arizona law in front of the White House.

Gutierrez, who has introduced an immigration reform bill that now has 96 co-sponsors, all of whom are democrats, says he is open to compromise. Lofgren’s subcommittee held hearings on immigration reform during the last Congress and would likely move directly to marking up a House bill to save time.

Addressing the likelihood of success on the issue, Obama said, “We need bipartisan support. But it can be done. And it needs to be done.”

To see a full transcript of the president’s statement click here to see his full statement: