Obama Immigration Speech to Give More Details, Call for Swift Reform

The U.S. president will use his bully pulpit during a speech in Las Vegas on Tuesday, aides said on Monday.

President Barack Obama, encouraged by work in the Senate on immigration reform, is expected to do his best to push for concrete legislation on Tuesday. Photo: The White House/Flickr

Administration officials revealed some details of the upcoming speech, on the condition they not be quoted directly.

Obama’s speech will come a day after a bipartisan group of eight senators – also known as the “gang of eight”- released a framework for immigration reform.

The White House was aware of the Senate group working on an agreement, but they didn’t expect it to come so quickly, and did not think that Mr Obama would have a concrete example of bipartisan agreement to point to in his speech, The Huffington Post reports.

“The minute it becomes Obama’s plan, the Republicans kick automatically into opposition,” said Bill Schneider, a political scientist at George Mason University in Virginia. “The White House knows to back off for now.”

According to officials, the ‘gang of eight’ may have been sped along by the president’s announcement of his Las Vegas speech on Monday, but the White House does not suspect any ill will.

However, the move is considered to be a good sign that lawmakers are jockeying for credit for immigration reform. The U.S. president wants to see action, and he will acknowledge the senators’ announcement as a positive step.

On Tuesday Mr Obama is expected to unveil some details of the White House plans and to call for broad changes to the nation’s immigration laws. The speech is predicted to be one of the major public pushes made by the administration in support of the broadest overhaul of immigration law in nearly three decades.

Barack Obama will probably mention that there’s a need of more straightforward route for un­documented workers and students to obtain citizenship.

“We see the Senate principles as a centrist set of principles, but we expect the administration to be more detailed to the left,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a leading immigration advocacy group.

“I don’t think it’ll be an immigration advocate’s dream, but it will be a solid left-of-center proposal,” he added.

White House press secretary Jay Carney tried to smooth the gap between the White House and the ‘gang of eight’ during his daily briefing with reporters Monday, calling the Capitol Hill announcement “a big deal” as it includes a path to citizenship supported by four senators.

As The Washington Post writes, similar provisions which is not supported by many Republicans who think they would reward lawbreakers over those who come to the country legally,  helped doom previous attempts to overhaul immigration in 2007 and 2010.

“This is in keeping with the principles the president has been espousing for a long time, in keeping with bipartisan efforts in the past and with the effort this president believes has to end in a law that he can sign,” Carney said.

However, the press secretary didn’t mention whether the White House objects to the proposal from the group of eight that is expected to tie citizenship to border security and employment-verification measures.

Nevertheless, Carney admitted that the administration’s focus on border-security issues, which included deporting nearly 410,000 immigrants in 2012, an all-time high.

The borders “have never been better enforced than they are now,” Carney said.

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