By Reynold N Mason JD
Atlanta April 27, 2011 Only days after launching his 2012 re-election bid, President Obama revived the issue of immigration reform with a meeting at the White House last Tuesday. There, the President hosted approximately 70 guests including former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, Rev. Al Sharpton and former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. Although the White House press release on the meeting stated that the President planned to discuss how to “build a bipartisan consensus in Congress” on immigration reform, the White House neither invited any Members of Congress nor law enforcement representatives.
Noticeably absent from the discussions was Representative Elton Gallegly (R-CA), current Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement. Rep. Gallegly called the President’s meeting and selective guest list a “summit on amnesty,” noting that the attendees “were obviously people who were not concerned about stopping illegal immigration.”
Also absent from the White House gathering were governors from border states. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said “it was a little bit of a snub” that neither she nor Texas Governor Rick Perry received an invitation from the President. (The Hill, April 20, 2011) Gov. Brewer remarked that since she and Governor Perry are on the front lines working to secure the border, they “should have been afforded that opportunity, to be at the table to help him understand the situation.” Arizona’s governor has met with President Obama in the past, during which meeting the President referred to Arizona’s immigration law, S.B. 1070, as “misguided.”
One person who did attend the White House meeting, however, was bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, Utah, John Wester. Wester was a chief architect of the Utah Compact. The Utah Compact is a basic, five-principle outline which urges compassion towards illegal aliens and argues that immigration should be left to the federal government.
The leaders of national pro-amnesty groups have spoken out in favor of The Utah Compact and encouraged its principles as a guideline for legislation in the states. Wester reported that the Utah Compact came up during his meeting with the President on Tuesday, and suggested it might be a template for an American Compact.
The White House immigration summit comes at a time when President Obama is under increasing pressure to rally his base for the 2012 elections. In an interview with MSNBC, Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) said that President Obama’s failure to act on immigration reform is making it difficult for him to support him for reelection. He encouraged the President to focus on the immigrant community when creating an agenda for comprehensive immigration reform. Representative Gutierrez also warned that the President needs to “shore up his support among the Latino community” in the coming months.
Sources inside the meeting indicate the President might be willing to do just that. Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles City Council President and a guest at last week’s meeting, said that Obama indicated he would press for a vote on a bill to help certain undocumented immigrants attain legal status if they attend college or serve in the military. Despite the December defeat of the DREAM Act, legislation which holds similar provisions, the President seems intent on pursuing an immigration agenda that has been resoundingly rejected by the American people. This latest meeting of the President’s was scheduled just prior to Obama’s fundraising stops in Nevada and California, two heavily populated Hispanic states.
My Thanks to the Federation for American Immigration Reform fot the use of their legislative updates in preparing this article.