by Moses Apsan, Esq.
In the midst of endless calamities, oils spills, economic doom and unemployment, when all hope seems to have been dissipated, President Obama today, will make a renewed effort for comprehensive immigration reform and keep the promise he made as a candidate to make it a priority in his first year. Perhaps it’s just in time, when following November’s election, there will be a lame duck session where anything is possible.
This Tuesday Obama met with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in the State Dining Room of the White House and talked about an approach for passing a bill that had seemed lifeless all this year. Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL-4), the chief proponent of comprehensive immigration reform was an integral part of that meeting.
Today, the president will explain to the American public why he believes a comprehensive approach is the only way to fix a broken immigration system. In a speech at American University in Washington DC , he expects to make the case for creating a path to legal status for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants who live in the U.S. while simultaneously strengthening border enforcement.
Obama has stated that a comprehensive solution implies "accountability for everybody.” This would include the U.S. government in securing the border, to enforcing “employer sanctions” for knowingly employing illegal immigrants and requiring that to those who enter the country illegally admit their actions before they can begin the long process of becoming citizens.
White House officials said that recent developments on immigration influenced his decision to give a speech, most particularly Arizona's endorsement of a tough anti-immigrant law and the numerous and growing protests across the American landscape.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, will be among invited guests. He has been a supporter in the fight to revise federal immigration statutes. Bloomberg will also be launching a coalition of mayors and business leaders to advocate for a revamp of the nation's immigration policy, including legalizing undocumented immigrants and less tolerance to businesses that hire illegal workers.
"Our immigration policy is national suicide," Mr. Bloomberg said at a forum in Midtown Manhattan Wednesday. "We educate the best and the brightest and then we don't give them a green card.”
The mayor has been increasingly verbal in what he has repeatedly describes as a broken immigration system. “Our immigration policy is national suicide,” he said last week when he announced the formation of the coalition of pro immigration mayors and business leaders.
No matter how you look at it, the outlooks for getting a bill to Obama’s desk before lawmakers start their November campaign looks bleak. The political reality is that Obama needs Republican support in order to get the bill moving in the right direction. His most notable obstacle is the Senate, where Democrats do not have the 60 votes needed to overcome GOP filibuster strategy.
"I've got to have some support from Republicans," he said at a May news conference during a visit with Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
Obama approved a proposal by Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., which would require illegal immigrants, among other things to pay fines and back taxes and perform community service to ultimately obtain legal status. But Graham has since has backed away and no other Senate Republican has succeeded him. Republican support has been fleeting.
In the House, a parallel bill championed by Rep. Gutierrez called the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act (CIR-ASAP/H.R. 4321) is ready for prime time. The bill, is sponsored by Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-TX) and co-sponsored primarily by members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Progressive Caucus, and Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Most Republicans insist on measures to tighten security along the U.S.-Mexico border before they consider comprehensive immigration reform, but Obama is in disagreement with that approach. Since he took office, his administration worked diligently to improve border security, including increasing personnel and equipment along the border.
Obama recently directed 1,200 National Guard troops to the border to increase security and requested Congress for an additional $600 million to use in support personnel and improve technology.
Time seems to be ripe for a major overhaul in the U.S. immigration laws. Today millions of people including illegal immigrants, legal residents, American citizens and U.S. businesses are being held in a type of limbo because of a law that is so convoluted and draconian that it cries out to be changed.