Obama urges House to resume talks on immigration reform
By Adelaide Mena
Migrant workers from Mexico pick cucumbers on a farm in Virginia. Credit: Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).
Migrant workers from Mexico pick cucumbers on a farm in Virginia. Credit: Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

.- President Barack Obama has asked the House of Representatives to move on an immigration reform bill, emphasizing the current dysfunctions in the immigration system and pressing for change.

“We should pass immigration reform.  It’s good for our economy.  It’s good for our national security.  It’s good for our people.  And we should do it this year,” the president said in an Oct. 24 speech from the White House.

The speech marks a renewed emphasis on immigration reform from the Obama administration.

In June, the Senate passed by a margin of 68–32 a bill that would help improve border security, require employee immigration status verification, and introduce a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States.

Though the bill passed and was sent to the House of Representatives, the legislation stalled over the summer as international concerns with Iran and Syria and domestic disputes over the debt ceiling and government funding took attention from the issue.

Some Republican members of the House have voiced opposition to the bill, but Obama challenged that this issue is not necessarily partisan. He reminded the nation that “my Republican predecessor was also for it when he proposed reforms like this almost a decade ago,” and the bill was supported by “more than a dozen Republican votes in the Senate.”

He also stressed that this is not a political move.  

“I’m not running for office again.  I just believe this is the right thing to do.”

He noted that action on the topic must be made because “our current immigration system is broken.  Across the political spectrum, people understand that.”

Obama commented that many of the policies that do not let graduates of American universities stay in the United States, that allow larger companies who take advantage of “the shadow economy” with few punishments, and that deport undocumented children who grew up in the United States back to the countries their country of birth are “not fair.”

“ It doesn’t make sense.  We have kicked this particular can down the road for too long.”

The president’s speech comes mere days after Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, called for immigration reform.

In an Oct. 18 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Cardinal Dolan stated that helping “the newcomer to our land feel at home is part of our mission,” as Catholics, and reminded the public of the critical role that Catholic immigration programs around the country play in assisting “immigrants in becoming Americans.”

“With help from the church and other institutions, our country has done a remarkable job of transforming immigrants from other shores into Americans, helping them become full members of our culture and communities.”

Cardinal Dolan vowed that these programs would continue and that the “Church will keep pouring resources into helping immigrants demonstrate that commitment, something our leaders should keep in mind as they debate what will become of these Americans in the making."

However, even as the children of immigrants “are achieving education and income levels comparable to the native-born population,” he continued, they still face institutional challenges to their integration into American society.

“By bringing the undocumented out of the shadows and giving them a chance to earn citizenship, we'd remove barriers to their immersion. This would allow them to participate in our society and develop talents and skills without inhibition, to the benefit of our culture.”

“Without such changes, we’ll remain a two-tiered society with a permanent underclass, a departure from the core democratic principles of our country,” he warned, asking the government to support “comprehensive immigration reform.”

Tags: Immigration reform

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