Obama In Texas To Push Immigration Overhaul

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama made his first trip as president to the U.S.-Mexico border, using the setting to sharpen his call for a remake of the nation’s immigration laws and try to cast the GOP as the obstacle standing in its way.

The president’s speech in El Paso, Texas, on Tuesday, and his visit to a border crossing there, are the latest high-profile immigration events by Obama, who has also hosted meetings at the White House recently with Latino lawmakers, movie stars and others.

President Barack Obama In El Paso: Full Speech

It all comes despite an unfavorable climate on Capitol Hill, where Republicans who control the House have shown no interest in legislation that offers a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants.

That’s led to criticism that Obama’s efforts are little more than politics in pursuit of the ever-growing Hispanic electorate ahead of the 2012 election. White House officials dispute that. They acknowledge the difficulties in getting a bill but say it’s likelier to happen if the president creates public support for immigration legislation, leading to pressure on Republican lawmakers.

“We already know from the first two years, the last Congress, that there was political opposition to comprehensive immigration reform, including from some places where there used to be political support,” said presidential spokesman Jay Carney. “We are endeavoring to change that dynamic by rallying public support, by raising public awareness about the need for comprehensive immigration reform.”

At the same time, the strategy allows Obama to highlight that Republicans are standing in the way of an immigration bill — shifting responsibility away from himself at a time when many Latino activists say he never made good on his campaign promise of prioritizing immigration legislation early on.

Obama’s spotty immigration record in the eyes of Latino voters makes it all the more politically imperative for him to shore up their support with his re-election campaign approaching.

“What’s different from 2008 is that there are more Hispanics and more millennials in the electorate overall. Latinos are even a bigger share than they were in 2008,” said Simon Rosenberg, a former Clinton White House strategist who follows immigration policy as head of the left-of-center NDN think tank. “Millennials” is a term for people born after 1980.

More Latinos voted in the 2010 elections than in any previous midterm, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, accounting for almost 7 percent of those voting. Still, turnout among Hispanic voters is far lower than among other groups, giving Obama a reason to want to try to motivate them. He’s picked hostile political territory to make his pitch, visiting a state he lost by more than 10 percentage points in 2008. But the trip does have one overtly political upside: Obama plans a side trip to the relatively liberal bastion of Austin to raise money for the Democratic National Committee at two fundraisers Tuesday night.

At the same time, Obama is pitching his immigration argument to the larger public, and he’s refining it in a way that goes to Americans’ pocketbook concerns. White House officials say Obama will emphasize the economic value of reforming immigration laws, noting that immigrants account for a substantial share of business start-ups and patent applications, among other things — activities that create jobs for everyone.

It’s a different approach than talking about immigration as a security issue or a moral one, and also provides a counter to the Republican argument that illegal immigrants drain U.S. resources.

The president will also argue that his administration has made great strides on border security. Administration officials boast of increasing the number of agents on the border, seizing more contraband and nearing completion of a border fence, and say they plan to extend the deployment of National Guard troops Obama sent to the border. To Republicans who say that immigration overhaul legislation shouldn’t happen until the border is secure, the White House now says it’s as secure as it’s ever been and the conversation on legislation needs to happen.

Republicans aren’t buying it.

“It seems President Obama has once again put on his campaigner-in-chief hat. The president’s push to legalize millions of illegal immigrants is purely political,” said Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “And even though administration officials like to pretend the border is secure, the reality is that it isn’t.”

Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said that House Republicans had no plans to take up immigration legislation and argued that if Obama were serious about immigration reform he would have reached out to Boehner on the issue, which Buck said he hasn’t.

The White House says Obama will push Tuesday for legislation and release a blueprint on his approach to reform, but without setting out any timeline. Indeed, getting immigration reform done any time soon is not realistic. Obama wasn’t even able to get legislation through Congress last year that would have provided a route to legal status for college students and others who were brought to the country as children. The so-called DREAM Act passed the House, then controlled by Democrats, but was blocked by Senate Republicans.

The Senate is now even more heavily Republican, and Republicans control the House. That means immigration reform can’t happen unless they cooperate.

But for Obama, if the public’s aware of that, it’s a political win — even if Republicans don’t budge.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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  • ann1938

    Obama turned down Texas’ request for help after the wildfires, saying the damage was nothing compared to that of Katrina. He said the only people affected were rich ranchers who could afford the loss. Let him stay in washington and not spread his hateful message here.

    • PM

      That’s such a lie ann, how do you expect anyone to take you seriously…

  • charles

    Here’s the problem -when bush was for it the democrates were against it. Now a democrate wants to try and the republicans are against it. What it is, is ared herring. Neither party cares more about a solution then getting elected. This like stopping drugs imported in this country could be solved if they (both) really wanted to do it.

  • FedUpTxn

    Mr. Obama I am an AMERICAN who voted for you but will NOT again if you give amnesty to the criminals over-running our state. 7 out of 10 of the most wanted criminals in this country are now from south of the border with mutlipe ID. Americans are being victimized every minute of every day. When will politicians LEAD for the GOOD of the nation and STOP thinking only of their own personal gain? Do you REALLY want the votes of criminals? It will cost tax-payers LESS to deport than to support this crime wave! It’s NOT about race, it’s about crime and financial burden.

  • NMEast

    What this immigration reform is, is a form of amnesty. It did’nt work when Reagan tried it, look where we are now with the number of illegal aliens. Why reward someone who broke the laws of the U.S. to come here? I don’t like many of the laws I have to live with, yet, if I break them, I can guarentee I will be in jail. These people, no matter who they are, need to leave this country and work to make their own country better. If they can start a business here, they can start one in their own country. If you want to have a worker program, start up the Bracero program the country ran in the 1940’s and 50’s for Mexican workers. Get serious about punishing employers of illegal aliens and make E-verify a requirement if a state wants Federal money. Take away ANY social services these people get, refuse to educate their children and CHANGE THE 14TH AMENDMENT back to what it was designed for – making sure the emancipated black slaves were considered citizens.

  • jack y

    There will NEVER be a comprehensive immigration program as lone as politicians worry more about votes than the people they were elected to serve.

  • CB

    Is Obama going to be in DFW? My allergies are going nuts, and I need to be healed. HEAL ME OBAMA! HEAL ME! If I could just touch his garment, I know I would be healed! PRAISE YOU OBAMA! HALLELUJAH!

  • BSInterrogator

    More lies this guy spews. He has not built a fence nor stopped illegal entry into the US. He lied to the blacks, now to the Mexicans. Liar, liar,liar. All he wants is the hispanic vote so he can spend more money on socialist agenda. I don’t think the hispanics in Texas are dumb enough to fall for his propaganda. Obama, go back to Washington and accomplish something like create some jobs and quit spending money in the middle east. Get out of Texas.

    • LJ

      What you wrote sure is BS. Did you read the article?
      “Administration officials boast of increasing the number of agents on the border, seizing more contraband and nearing completion of a border fence, and say they plan to extend the deployment of National Guard troops Obama sent to the border.” Additionally, the Obama Administration HAS deported more illegal immigrants than any other President including Bush. Its a fact not a lie or BS, BS!

  • Keeping it real

    He is coming to Texas to get a boat load of money from the liberal drones in Austin, it is a FUND RAISER!! He has to throw in the El Paso “joke speech” to a make it look like he was not just campaigning. If you are Hispanic AND think this guy really cares about you please do a little research, PLEASE. If you ever plan on starting your own company all he wants is your profits, in the form of taxes! If you work real hard to get some wealth, he wants to redistribute it to those who do not want to work. PS: What bums me out is I thought he would be driving the new GM car called the “Obama”. It is a hybrid that runs on hot air and bulls#*^!!!

    • PM

      I think Perry already bought that car…

  • Charles

    Obama is just campaigning to get reelected! Remember, he promised all this as candidate Obama in 2008. What happened after he got elected? The House and Senate had Democrat majorities and he could not get it done? And now he wants Hispanics to believe this tripe? Does he think they are ignorant? He must. Americans want full border security, not catch and release or push them back across the border, they want E-verify made mandatory for ALL EMPLOYERS and then, and only then, should we even begin to discuss any sort of changes to our current immigration laws (which the Obama administration has chosen to disregard – obviously trying to garner votes ).

  • Rick McDaniel

    All Obama plans to do, is to open the floodgates, and finish his project of destroying the US.

  • Reeper

    Fact: I’m not party affiliated. I’m a mixed of races and could care less what breed you are as long as your a legal American!
    Fact: Illegals are a security issue, how they get here will be how your foes get here.
    They want a brighter future, the foes pay a lot more than we do for jobs well done.
    If they are willing to break our laws coming here, what is to stop them from doing jobs for our foes?
    Fact: You give amnesty to illegals for breaking our laws, then open those cell doors and give true American’s amnesty for breaking our laws-there is no difference.
    Question: How come if all the jobs are in China, illegals aren’t running there for a job?
    Fact: You come here illegally, you should be shot and killed with no trip home.
    That is how you end illegal immigration, no promise of a brighter future here.
    Forget busing/shipping them home, they just come back next week-death is their only salvation.
    Maybe if they have to face death for coming here, they will stay at home where they face it and change their own Nation to where they can prosper there.
    If all our products come from China, we might as well be like them when it comes to killing off problems.

  • Joanne

    This is great.

  • Hemroidious

    No mas Obama !

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