When he ran for office in 2008, President Obama told Spanish-language channel Univision, ‘What I can guarantee is that we will have in the first year an immigration bill that I strongly support.’ Now, two years later, with no such bill passed, Obama will travel to El Paso, Texas to address what everyone understands is a broken immigration system. His talk will be the first in a series of ‘community conversations,’ geared toward moving the needle on the issue. Obama’s speech will offer no specific legislation nor a timeline for action, but will focus on his administration’s achievements (as he sees them) to date: doubling the number of patrol agents along the U.S.-Mexico border to 20,700 and deporting almost 400,000 illegal immigrants in 2010 alone. He’ll also argue for granting citizenship to more immigrants and call on Republicans to consent to measures that provide an easier path to citizenship.
Will any such legislation get passed? Doubtful, given Republicans ‘border security first’ (and second and third) approach to the issue. But Obama is obviously trying to win back the goodwill of a Hispanic constituency whose votes he will need in the 2012 presidential race, and who have appreciated neither the deportations nor the inaction on reform. As a candidate in 2008, Obama made the right noises about immigration reform, saying that the United States’ illegal immigrants needed to be brought ‘out of the shadows,’ raising expectations he failed to live up to. ‘They are going to have to make some big administrative action,” said Frank Sharry, director of pro-immigration reform group America’s Voice Education Fund, “to make up for the fact that he promised big.”
Obama Courts Latino Voters With Immigration Speech [New York Times]
Obama in El Paso to discuss ‘broken immigration system’ [Mercury News]
Better Late Than Never? [National Journal]
Obama’s border visit renews focus on immigration policy [Washington Post]