Saturday, July 20, 2024

Impending Fiscal Battle May Postpone Immigration Reform Decision

With a divided Congress and fiscal battles looming in, President Obama is starting to face challenges in his efforts to push for comprehensive immigration reform as one of his first tasks since re-election.

One of the more pressing issues on President Obama’s plate is the looming fiscal cliff, which refers to the drastic changes scheduled to go into effect as the terms of the Budget Control Act of 2011 end on December 31st at midnight. Members of Congress on both sides are beginning to worry that this will take up much of Washington’s focus in early 2013.

Speaking to Reuters reporters on whether Congress will tackle issues like immigration, climate change, and job creation, Democratic Senator Mark Warner says, “[w]e’re not going to get to any of that until we get this [fiscal cliff] fixed, until we lance this boil.”

Immigration reform has failed repeatedly in Congress, but both Democrats and Republicans want to more efficiently verify legal workers and immigrants in the United States. Both sides have also expressed a desire to see progress in this area soon.

“At a minimum, they’ll want to have a bill [introduced] by early spring, around April,” says Andrea Zuniga DiBitetto, who follows Congress for the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.

Representative Steve King, a conservative Republican and supporter of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, said that President Obama could not be trusted to enforce any immigration reform law that Congress might produce. King had also downplayed the effect that the alienated Latino community had on Republicans losing the recent election.

Representative Raul Labrador, another conservative and native of Puerto Rico, disagrees, and says the Latino vote is essential for a healthy Republican Party, and recognizes the importance of making progress on comprehensive immigration reform.

“One of the biggest things conservatives talk about often is that we want to fix a broken government. Well, if you know anything about immigration law, the immigration system is absolutely broken in the United States,” said Labrador.

As previously reported on La Plaza, President Obama believes that comprehensive immigration reform is a priority and is achievable. He had said that in order to have reform, he would need a bipartisan agreement with securing borders, to make sure companies hire legal workers, to ensure a pathway for undocumented citizens to become legal, and to support the DREAM Act.

“[President Obama] believes that comprehensive immigration reform is achievable… because there has been in the past bipartisan support for immigration reform,” says Obama Press Secretary Jay Carney. “And he thinks it’s important not just for specific communities that would be affected by it, but for the American economy.”