Saturday, May 25, 2024

Obama says Immigration Reform Difficult in State of the Union Address

President Barack Obama called on lawmakers to work together to pass comprehensive immigration reform in Tuesday’s State of the Union address, but acknowledged it would be a tough battle.

“I know that debate will be difficult and take time, but tonight, let’s agree to make that effort,” Obama told the joint session of Congress last night.

Speaking in a bipartisan tone, the President said he would work across the aisles to “protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows.”

Obama also called for passage of the DREAM Act, which would legalize undocumented students that were brought into the country illegally by their parents at a young age if they complete two years of college or serve in the military.

“Let’s stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses and further enrich this nation,” he said.

Republicans have said they will not take up comprehensive immigration reform until the border is secured first and current immigration laws are better enforced.  Other top priorities for the GOP, which has the upper hand in the House of Representatives, include improving the economy and creating jobs.

“It’s hard for him to talk about creating jobs and then endorse illegal workers keeping their jobs at the expense of American workers,” Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee which oversees immigration reform, said.

For now, the issue of immigration may have been put on the backburner but it is expected to take center stage again in the 2012 elections.

Members of the Latino community are frustrated and say Republicans need to stop playing political theater with the issue and Obama must push harder moving forward.

A member of the national leadership of the Service Employees International Union, Eliseo Medina, called on Obama to challenge Republicans “to step up to the plate – to be people who are really for solutions instead of little ideological issues that are much more about scoring political points.”

Houston Chronicle