The White House has announced that President Obama will be holding a series of meetings on Tuesday 12 February 2013 in support of his campaign to reform the nation’s immigration system.
First the president will meet with senior officials of US unions and other interested groups. Representatives of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) have been invited to the meeting with the president, along with members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the National Council of La Raza, the group advocating for the rights of immigrants of Hispanic descent.
According to Work Permit, The President is also scheduled to hold a second meeting with the heads of major US companies. Among these leaders will be Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, Steve Case, the founder of AOL, Joe Echevarria, the chief executive of accountants Deloitte, and Muhtar Kent, the chief executive of Coca Cola.
The president is reportedly anxious to build a wide a consensus in favour of his proposals before Congress votes on a comprehensive reform bill later in 2013.
President Obama plans to move fast on the issue, telling the Spanish language TV station Telemundo last week that he wanted his immigration reform proposals to become law within six months, if possible.
Recent moves on immigration reform have renewed hope in the Irish community that a long sought after deal is finally on the horizon.
According to the Irish Times, Orla Kelleher, executive director of the Aisling Irish Community Center in the Bronx, says there is cautious optimism among the Irish community there in relation to the announcements.
'I think what we heard is an emphatic commitment to producing a comprehensive immigration reform Bill in the very near future. It seems very promising. A lot of people who have lived here undocumented for over 20 years are quietly optimistic about it.'
Currently a bi-partisan group of senators are examining legislation that could finally pave the way to full citizenship for more than 11 million undocumented living and working here.
According to Work Permit there are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US. President Obama now wants to 'bring them out of the shadows' and allow them to work, pay taxes and participate fully in American life. But many right wing Republicans are strongly opposed to what they say is an amnesty that rewards illegal behavior.
But president Obama's forthcoming series of high level meetings demonstrates he is serious about putting his efforts behind reform. According to The Financial Times, the chances of reform becoming law are the best that they have been in six years since President George W Bush tried to introduce reform in 2007. Bush failed to drive the reform through the Senate and the law remained unchanged. It is anticipated that Obama will be successful.