Politics

Obama urges Hispanics to rally for more immigration

Neil Munro White House Correspondent

President Barack Obama tried to revive the stalled effort to revamp the nation’s immigration laws by telling Spanish-speaking immigrants on Tuesday that he would not try to arrange a regulatory bypass around Congress.

“I do get a little worried that advocates of immigration reform start losing heart and immediately think… ‘if Congress doesn’t act, we’ll just have the president sign something and that’ll take care of it,’” Obama told the audience of Telemundo, a Spanish-speaking TV network that promotes increased immigration.

“There’s a path to get this done, and that’s through Congress,” Obama insisted Sept. 17.

“And right now, everybody should be focused on making sure that that bill that’s already passed out of the Senate hits the floor of the House of Representatives,” he directed.

In October, business groups, ethnic lobbies, progressive groups, unions and church leaders are expected to step up pressure for passage of a new package of immigration laws.

NumbersUSA and other groups that want to reduce the current immigration rate fear that the House GOP leadership will use the end-of-year legislative crush to sneak through a surprise immigration increase.

The Senate bill was passed in July.

Many business groups are pushing the GOP leadership to create a small immigration bill through the House, so a comprehensive joint bill can be drafted in a conference of House and Senate legislators. Once drafted, the joint bill could be passed through the House with overwhelming support from the Democratic caucus.

Obama seemed to endorse this staged strategy. He wants to increase pressure on the GOP leadership, especially House Speaker John Boehner, until he agree to a joint House-Senate conference, even though an overwhelming majority of the House GOP legislators oppose the Senate bill.

“What’s stopping him from going ahead and calling that bill? … [he] shouldn’t be afraid of [the GOP’s] majority opinion on this thing,” Obama said.

Obama also said passage is a very high priority for him.

“You’ve got a president who says that this is a number-one priority and he can’t wait to sign a comprehensive immigration reform bill,” he said.

White House aide Valerie Jarrett recently said passage of an immigration bill would be as important as passage of Obamacare.

Obama also claimed the push for increased immigration is popular. “You’ve got the majority of the American public who are committed to immigration reform and support a pathway to citizenship for those who don’t have it,” he claimed.

Numerous polls show that Americans and Latino immigrants strongly oppose an increased inflow of workers. Polls also show that many Americans would support a staged amnesty for illegals on the condition that further illegal immigration is greatly reduced.

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