Category: Archive

Front burner

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Obama promised the group that he would push for legislation that would be ready by the end of the year. But he also pragmatically added that it could be 2010 before legislation is enacted.
Following the hour-long meeting, some Democrats seemed re-assured that the president would follow through on his campaign promise to see reform initiated during his first year in office.
Many of the Republicans at the meeting said that economic challenges would prevent comprehensive reform of the U.S. immigration system this year.
“One of the things that was said around the table is the American people still don’t have enough confidence that Congress and any administration is going to get serious about border security, and so they’re concerned that any immigration reform simply will be a short-term legalization of undocumented workers with no long-term solution with respect to future flows of illegal immigration,” said Obama after the meeting.
He also emphasized that his administration would look for some sort of amnesty for those that are in the country illegally, saying there was a need for an effective way to recognize and legalize the status of undocumented workers who are here.
Vice President Joseph Biden, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis were joined by Hispanic congressional members and a strong showing of New Yorkers including Senator Charles Schumer and reps. Joseph Crowley and Anthony Weiner.
In an interview on the White House driveway after the meeting, Congressman Crowley said he believed that with leadership from the White House, reform could be accomplished this year despite competition from such other legislative behemoths as health care reform and economic regeneration legislation.
“I saw him (Obama) two weeks ago and when we talked about how there were some who say that he’s asking Congress to do too much, he said, ‘God doesn’t make carry more than you can hold,'” said Crowley.
Noting that his district is filled with immigrants from not just Ireland, but also India and Latin America, Crowley added: “Queens County is the new Ellis Island of New York; we’re the one who teaches new Americans how to be Americans.”
Senator Schumer said the meeting was the “shot in the arm” needed for immigration reform to receive traction as an issue along with such large competing legislation on energy, the economy, and health care.
Senator John McCain sat next to President Obama during the meeting in the State Dining Room of the White House. He told the president, and reporters afterwards, that he wanted a robust temporary worker program and stronger control over the U.S./Mexican border.
By limiting his comments to a temporary worker program, it is being felt now that any sort of bipartisan coalition of the kind previously headed by Sen. McCain on immigration has now seemingly evaporated.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) although not at the meeting, told the Echo afterwards: “I am committed to working with the Obama administration to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill that upholds America’s security and the rule of law, while right-sizing our immigration system to unite families and provide a real and sustainable path to citizenship.”
Most of even the participants at the meeting offered similarly oblique references on such crucial issues as how many immigrants should be allowed in, what to do with the millions currently living here without legal documents, and how the U.S. intends to treat future immigrants.
“There is not by any means consensus across the table,” President Obama noted in his remarks after the meeting.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese