Obama hopes for immigration reform in 2010
President's agenda too full to focus on immigration now
On a visit to Mexico on Monday, President Barack Obama told reporters that immigration reform would have to wait until next year, although movement will begin on the contentious issue in fall.
Citing too much on his legislative plate as the reason he is sidelining his plans to address immigration reform before the end of the year, Obama said he has to move on heath care, financial and energy reform in the coming months, and doesn’t want immigration to get mired in the middle.
“Am I going to be able to snap my fingers and get this done? No. This is going to be difficult,” said the president about an immigration reform bill.
“It’s going to require bipartisan cooperation. There are going to be demagogues out there who try to suggest that any form of pathway for legalization for those who are already in the U.S. is unacceptable. And those are fights that I’d have to have if my poll numbers are at 70 or if my poll numbers are at 40. That’s just the nature of the U.S. immigration debate,” said Obama on Monday.
However, the president did say he aspires to have draft legislation ready before the end of the year.
“What we’ve been able to do is to begin meeting with both Democrats and Republicans from the House and the Senate,” he said.
“Secretary Napolitano is coordinating theses discussions, and I would anticipate that before the year is out we will have draft legislation along with sponsors potentially in House and the Senate who are ready to move this forward, and when we come back next year, that we should be in a position to start acting.”
Obama said he hopes to create a stronger border security presence and allow those who currently are undocumented, including an estimated 50,000 Irish people, to come out of the shadows and live legally in the U.S.
“We can create a system in which you have strong border security, we have an orderly process for people to come in, but we’re also giving an opportunity for those who are already in the U.S. to be able to achieve a pathway to citizenship so that they don’t have to live in the shadows,” said the president.
Although slightly disappointed with the news that it will definitely be 2010 before legislation may be passed, Irish undocumented living in the U.S. told the Irish Voice that they trust Obama and are confident now more than ever on a successful bill in the next year or two.
“It took years in the late eighties to get an immigration bill passed so I wasn’t expecting anything to happen by the end of this year,” said Sean, 29 from Tyrone, who asked to withhold his second name because he is undocumented.
“I’m fine if we get something by 2010 or even 2011,” he said.
Sean, who has been living in the U.S without papers for six years, had all his eggs in one basket two years ago when the immigration issue was hot.
“I was so sure a few years ago that Kennedy and McCain would get a bill passed and some kind of law would have come from it that I even booked a ticket home for the following Christmas. I wasn’t long canceling it,” laughs Sean.
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