President Obama Urges Republicans to Help Bridge Bipartisan Divide on Immigration

Written by on July 1, 2010 in Legislation, Reform with 6 Comments

Today, President Obama delivered his first major immigration speech at American University urging Republicans to put bipartisan and election politics aside and help Democrats fix our broken immigration system once and for all. With an audience of law enforcement, elected officials, and evangelical, business, labor, and community leaders, the President provided a framework for understanding the depth and complexity of the immigration issue—laying out the fundamental problems with our immigration system while highlighting the critical role immigrants have and continue to play in strengthening America. The President then asked Republican leadership to join his Administration’s efforts to step up, take responsibility and pass an immigration reform bill.

In today’s speech, the President made it clear that this Administration is ready to move forward. Action is needed, but he needs Republicans support.

Our task then is to make our national laws actually work – to shape a system that reflects our values as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. And that means being honest about the problem, and getting past the false debates that divide the country rather than bring it together.

The question now is whether we will have the courage and the political will to pass a bill through Congress, to finally get it done… I’m ready to move forward; the majority of Democrats are ready to move forward; and I believe the majority of Americans are ready to move forward. But the fact is, without bipartisan support, as we had just a few years ago, we cannot solve this problem. Reform that brings accountability to our immigration system cannot pass without Republican votes. That is the political and mathematical reality. The only way to reduce the risk that this effort will again falter because of politics is if members of both parties are willing to take responsibility for solving this problem once and for all.

I believe we can put politics aside and finally have an immigration system that’s accountable. I believe we can appeal not to people’s fears but to their hopes, to their highest ideals, because that’s who we are as Americans.

Today’s speech follows back to back White House meetings this week with immigration advocates, faith groups, labor leaders and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The speech also follows the President’s request for $600 million in additional border security spending to fund 1,000 additional Border Patrol agents, 160 additional ICE agents, and improved infrastructure along the Southwest Border. Although the President mentioned Arizona’s harsh immigration law, he did not comment on Department of Justice’s forthcoming legal challenge. The President did, however, reiterate that fixing the border alone is not a long term solution to our immigration problems.

Although today’s speech contained no new policy initiatives or a congressional timetable for reform, the President certainly made the case for why immigration is such an important issue. Now that the stage is set for a renewed and heightened reform effort, immigration advocates are waiting for the President to turn his words into action and show the same leadership moving immigration reform legislation forward that he showed today.

Photo by Peter Souza.

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  • Please reform inmigration. I am in desperate need to keep my family together. My wife of 6 years is undocumented in this country and is facing deportation. We have two beautiful children together. We must stay together. Please keep a family together.

  • Tom

    It is upsetting to see the republicans are continuing to ruin our country with their party solidarity. Newspapers should highlight this issue more. It is no wonder the integrity of the Wall Street Journal has plummeted as cited by The Committee for Media and Newspaper Integrity.

  • Love2Watch

    Mr. President and Congress, please re-peal the 3-10 year bars. I have been separated from my husband and daughter for almost 2 years now. My case is under appeal at the AAO’s office. Please do not separate families.

  • Danny H

    Why aren`t democrats more pragmatic about this?
    Let`s get them work permits first so they come out of the shadows!. Driver`s licenses, auto insurance, the possibility of flying back and forth to their country of origin!!
    Charge them $500 fine and use that money to pay for a national ID and the border fence!! Show the american public that we really mean business!!
    After that we can give the public hard numbers about how much money they are paying in taxes, how many indirect jobs they are creating, the far right won`t be able to twist the truth anymore. Let 5 yrs elapse and then get them green cards and citizenship.
    Come on people we need to be more ptagmatic about this!!
    If we fail this year the rest of us will go back to our comfy lives and they will have to live in hell for another year!!

  • If Americans, esp. Republicans, can really put human interests first (life and liberty, family unification) over politics, this immigration reform can be accomplished within a year. And yes, the 3-year and 10-year bar should be repealed, because that is one of the most unjust and cruel legislation of immigration laws in recent decades. Please urge your friends, neighbors, co-workers, employers to contact their respective representative in Congress to act on this reform now.

  • Emanuela

    I think Republicans and Democrats have to stop all finger pointing and put solutions on the table for discussion. Compromise is the word. So long as the finger pointing is allowed to continue, nothing will get done. So instead of blaming one or the other party, let’s get it done. No more excuses.